Hill-Stead News

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The historic 1901 Hill-Stead estate offers unique indoor gathering spaces with a residential feel and outdoor sites with breathtaking vistas.

Five elegant venues offer flexible space to fit the needs of a variety of occasions, from holiday gatherings and cocktail parties to corporate meetings and events.To learn more, visit Facility Rentals or contact Sarah Wadsworth 860.677.4787 x134

From Page to Stage: Broadway Costumes from the Goodspeed Musicals Collection

September 21, 2017 – January 1, 2018

Special Costume-focused Tours will be offered each week on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:15 am, 12:15 pm and 1:15 pm; or by special appointment.

Purchase Tickets

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This special exhibition of Broadway costumes throughout the historic house is on view from September 21 through January 1, 2018. It honors the Pope Family’s enjoyment of literature, poetry and live performances, particularly theater and opera.

The time period of the shows featured mirror the years 1901 to 1946 when the Pope family resided in Farmington and features vignettes of costumes with accessories and archival ephemera. View magnificent costumes from shows such as Showboat, Anything Goes, Pirates of Penzance, Carousel, and Kiss Me, Kate, as well as lesser-known productions. Original theater programs on loan from the American Musical Theater Collection at Yale University Library and period sound recordings will add an extra dimension to this unique experience throughout the museum.


Purchase/RESERVE Tickets

From Page to Stage Tours

Special Costume-focused Tours will be offered each week on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:15 am, 12:15 pm and 1:15 pm; or by special appointment.

  • $15 Adults, $12 seniors and students, $8 children 6 to 12, FREE for Museum Members, LGA Members, CT Art Trail Passport holders, and children under 6. Not a member?  Join Now!
  • Advanced tickets are required to guarantee a spot on each tour. Walk-ins will be welcomed based on availability.

The Combo-Tour Package allows visitors to purchase both the regular Hill-Stead house tour, Highlights of Hill-Stead, & From Page to Stage tour at a discounted price.  Costume-focused Tours will be offered each week on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:15 am, 12:15 pm and 1:15 pm; or by special appointment.

  • $26 Adults, $20 seniors and students, $12 children 6 to 12, Free for Museum members and children under 6. Not a member?  Join Now!
  • Visitors who purchase a combo ticket can choose to do both tours on a single day, or return for the second type of tour on a later date.
  • Advanced tickets for the costume tours are required to guarantee a spot on each tour. Walk-ins will be welcomed based on availability.

Costume-focused Group Tours will be offered in addition to regular museum tours.  Groups of 10 or more receive $1 off per person whether they purchase the Page to Stage Tour or the Combo Tour.  Advanced reservations are required.

Related Programs

L’Affaire Musicale – From Page to Stage: Selections from Broadway’s Early Musicals
November 3

As part of this costume exhibition, Hill-Stead Museum presents a three-part musical series featuring live performances of Broadway hits during the years the Pope family resided at Hill-Stead.


In partnership with

Presented by

Elizabeth Ferry Speer Foundation

A New Pollinator Garden at Hill-Stead

By Lea Anne Moran, Garden Manager

What is a pollinator garden, you might ask? Aren’t all gardens good for pollinators? It’s nice to think that, but it’s not necessarily so.

Pollinator Garden at Hill-Stead

A honey bee on the heirloom garden heliotrope in the Sunken Garden.

For the past three decades, visitors to Hill-Stead Museum have grown to love and appreciate the scenic historic Sunken Garden, easily viewed from the top of the steps. Those who venture down are often surprised to see the multitude of bees, butterflies, birds, and moths enjoying themselves among the plants. There are some plants in the garden that the bees just love: the many varieties of purple and blue salvia are among their favorites. Some they like to look at, but not touch, like the pink and white Japanese anemone. I’ve watched bees hover and dance around these pretty, bouncing flowers, but after a look or maybe a sniff, they fly on to the next bed for a tastier treat.

So then, what is a pollinator garden? It is one that contains plants that provide nectar and pollen for pollinators, and offers a place for them to
call home. Master Gardener interns and graduates have been hard at work planning a new pollinator garden on the museum grounds that will serve this purpose. Not only will it be a habitat and food source for bees, butterflies and others, it will be a beautiful and colorful garden for visitors to explore. And the best thing is that it will make use of a long-forgotten space that was once a productive greenhouse for the Pope and Riddle families. At its peak, it was filled with bedding plants grown from seed for the gardens on the property and provided plants and blooms for the home. What better way to use the space than to fill it once again with beautiful blooms, climbing vines and flowering shrubs?

Pollinator Garden at Hill-Stead

An early image of one of three greenhouses on the Hill-Stead grounds.

The old stone foundation of the greenhouse still stands strong but has been overgrown with vines, poison ivy and tree seedlings. It is tucked behind the stone garage, the low stone building facing the Pope house that you drive past to get to the parking lot. You can get to these “ruins” through a vine-covered opening in the high stone wall at the southeast side of the Sunken Garden. Only the curious have ventured there in the past, but it will soon be the home of a bountiful, colorful garden for visitors to explore and appreciate.


Pollinator Garden at Hill-Stead

Master gardeners hard at work laying the cardboard and landscape fabric over the poison ivy and other weeds.

This past year, a team of Master Gardener interns led by Lora Madorin, Susan Caron and Lea Anne Moran developed a plan for the space. They considered carefully the historic aspect of the site, and their research for plant material included studying invoices found in the archives for plants that would have been grown there. They scoured the long lists of pollinator-friendly plants currently available on the market and have put together a “wish list.”

Clearing the land has been the biggest hurdle. The area was filled with poison ivy that had to be addressed first. Several options were considered, and in the end, layers of landscape fabric and cardboard were laid as a first line of defense. This spring, the group assessed the area and began soil preparation.

The Master Gardeners are seeking plant donations and have many ideas for future educational programs. Keep an eye out for updates on this revitalized outdoor space at Hill-Stead.

Billy Collins is Sold Out!

Information for ticket holders

We are excited to welcome you to the Sunken Garden on Wednesday, June 21 for Billy Collins at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival.  Please note the following:


Please carpool to the Poetry Festval. Parking will fill to capacity. Beginning at 4 pm, We will run a shuttle bus to and from the parking lot of a local business park located at 1690 New Britain Avenue in Farmington – just minutes away from Hill-Stead. Once Hill-Stead’s lots are filled, visitors must park in the shuttle lot at 1690 New Britain Avenue in Farmington or find parking within walking distance of the Festival. Pay close attention to “no parking” signs on side streets and park only where it is legal and safe to do so.


Pay attention to the weather. In the event of steady rain, the festival takes place under an event tent in Hill-Stead’s Kitchen Garden. In that case, we would expect an overflow of visitors, so please dress in layers and grab an umbrella and poncho if rain is predicted. This event is rain or shine – there will be no refunds issued for weather.


We are pleased to offer you three dining choices this evening: Iron & Grain, Co. and Avon Prime Meats will be located on the front lawn, and Culteavo in The Tea Room located on the east side of the Garden in the Stone Garage. We will also have a bartender serving red and white wine in the Garden. You are welcome to bring your own picnic dinners and beverages to enjoy on the grounds and in the Garden.


The Prelude Interview with Colin McEnroe and Billy Collins will begin at 5 pm in the Garden on the main Poetry stage. Music and poetry performances will begin at 6.

See you in the garden!

GRAND OPENING – The Tea Room at Hill-Stead

The Tea Room at Hill-SteadBeginning May 13, weekend visitors can round out their Hill-Stead experience with gourmet food and tea in this beautiful, historic setting. The museum announces a partnership with local artisan tea room and café Culteavo. The Tea Room at Hill-Stead will be located at The Stone Garage with additional bistro tables and chairs set on the open courtyard.

The weekly menu will showcase English scones, tea sandwiches, and sweet treats, including some gluten free and vegetarian options – all paired with loose leaf and cold brewed teas.

In addition to the seated tearoom, there will be the option of a “Picnic Basket for Two.” Visitors can take a full sweet and savory afternoon tea basket outside for a countryside picnic.

See the Culteavo at Hillstead menu.

Just for Mother’s Day

Hill-Stead is offering Mother’s Day Tea on the Veranda. Culteavo of Unionville has customized a very special menu just for this occasion.

  • Includes a choice of sweet and savory gourmet food and Culteavo teas and coffee.
  • Add-on options and additional guests are also available while making a reservation.
  • Seatings at 11:30 am, 1 pm and 2:30 pm.


  • For more information, call Culteavo, 860-470-5121.
  • $22.50 per person, minimum two people.

Make a reservation

2017 Fresh Voices Finalists Announced

Hill-Stead is honored to announce the finalists for the 2017 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition:


Michelle Chen
Sophia Durand
Grace Gonzalez
Joyce Hida
Mechelle Horelick
Rachel Horowitz-Benoit
Abigail Howard
Nadia Jalal
Samantha Lewis
Verne Mackoff
Kimberly McGuire
Quinn Miller
Sydney Parrott
Mae Santillo
Sonali Singh
Sophie Spaner
Michael Williams

Thank you to the record number of students who submitted their poetry this year!

Emily Jungmin Yoon chosen as winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize

Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that Maggie Smith has chosen Ordinary Misfortunes by Emily Jungmin Yoon of Chicago, Illinois, as winner of the 2017 Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize.

Emily will perform her work in at Hill-Stead’s Sunken Garden Poetry Festival on Wednesday, July 19.  For tickets, visit Sunken Garden Poetry Festival 2017.

I’m completely taken in by these poems, how they deftly balance lyric and narrative, history and the present, body and mind. These are poems of violence–against women, and against Korean women in particular–but they are also poems about the pain and pleasure in language itself: ‘pear in Korean is a homonym for ship or boat’; ‘A homonym for apple is apology.’ Ordinary Misfortunes is a remarkable collection.
—Maggi Smith


Emily Jungmin Yoon‘s poems and translations appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Offing, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. For her poetry, she has received awards and fellowships from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, AWP’s WC&C Scholarship Competition, The Home School in Miami, the Aspen Institute, New York University, and the University of Chicago. She is the Poetry Editor for The Margins, the literary magazine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and is a PhD student in the East Asian Languages and Civilizations Department at the University of Chicago.

Boundless: Altered Books in Contemporary Art

June 16 – September 4, 2017

Special Exhibit Tours are offered every Saturday & Sunday between 11 am and 2pm, and by special appointment.  Please call 860.677.4787 ext. 142 or email ebnerk@hillstead.org for more details and to make group reservations.

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Boundless presents contemporary art inside Hill-Stead’s period rooms for the first time

In celebration of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival’s 25th Anniversary, the historic Libraries will be transformed into a contemporary sculpture gallery to showcase Boundless: Altered Books in Contemporary Art, guest-curated by Carole Kunstadt, a graduate of the Hartford Art School. Installed among the many rare first editions and early volumes in the Pope family’s personal library, it is an exhibition of altered books by three contemporary artists: Carole P. Kunstadt, Chris Perry and Erin Walrath.

Boundless: Altered Books in Contemporary Art

Boundless presents three unique approaches to transforming and exploring the malleability of the form, creating new structures and experiences of the codex. Using found books as their medium, the artists give new life, meaning and relevance to the source materials. Through each artist’s process of deconstruction and recreation, the pages and spines are layered, cut, stitched, molded, stacked, drilled, shredded, woven and gilded. In re-imagining both the content and the context the resulting works reshape our relationship with books. they entice us into a world intriguingly familiar yet previously unknown. The written texts are re-imagined into a boundless world of new associations, altered memories and rekindled responses.

Associations abound when viewing the altered books, rekindling intimate imaginings, sensorial responses to the books’ physicality and cherished memories of personal attachments to books.

Contemporary Art in Context at Hill-Stead

While the Modern Art of Alfred Pope’s day and Contemporary Art of the 21st century appear to be worlds apart, both are grounded in the principle of venturing beyond accepted norms and attempting to convey an understanding of the times. Modern Art referenced the past and with this reference and appropriation, it attempted to understand the “present time” of a century ago. Contemporary art also aids in understanding the present that today.

Alfred Pope was drawn completely to the then-radical works created by the French Impressionists and during his lifetime continued to stay abreast of the evolving art world. While Pope did not venture to collect works of the subsequent “isms” such as Post-Impressionism, Expressionism or Fauvism. However, he did view such works and we can surmise he did so with an open mind. In the last year of his life, 1913, Pope attended the International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York City, commonly known as the Armory Show. Here he would have viewed artworks on the cutting edge. Among the featured works was Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, once referred to as “an explosion in a shingle factory.” While we do not know precisely what Pope thought of his experience at the exhibition, we do know that he hoped a young friend, also an a art collector, would be able to see the show before it closed.

Had Alfred Pope lived a few generations later, would his Hill-Stead of the late 20th and early 21st century have included an altered book as sculpture amidst his other treasures?

About Hill-Stead’s Historic Libraries

Like all private libraries, the one at Hill-Stead tells us about the people who lived in the house, where the books so clearly illuminate both their owners and the times during which they lived. These volumes, like the house itself, combine nostalgia for the past with concern for the problems engendered by the industrial development which made the house and collection possible. The lives the Pope family led – from New England Quaker simplicity to Midwestern prosperity and European influence in the first generation, to Theodate’s progressive and wide-ranging awareness of her times in the second generation – mirror American influences during the mid-nineteenth century through the years of the Second World War.

More than 3,300 volumes of books are contained within Hill-Stead and represent literary classics, important first editions, and works on specific subjects such as art and architecture, politics and reform, travel, world history and spiritualism. Most of the book collection is housed in two period rooms known as the First and Second Libraries. Highlights of the book collection include a first edition of Francisco de Goya’s The Disasters of War, published in 1863 in a limited edition of 500 copies and containing 82 engravings; a first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, published in 1922 in a limited edition of 750 copies; Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755; John Ogilby’s America, Being the Latest and the Most Accurate Description of the New World, published in 1671; and sets titled The World’s Best Literature, Dictionary of Authors, and History of English People.

Featured Artists

Boundless, Carole P. Kunstadt, Sacred Poem XI

Carole P. Kunstadt, Sacred Poem XI, 2015. 24-karat gold leaf, paper, thread, gampi tissue, 7.5 x 8 x 1.5 in.

Carole P. Kunstadt dissects, stitches, weaves and gilds book leaves savoring the aged qualities of the paper and text while reminding one of the personal associations to knowledge and history, and the passage and compression of time. Intimate in scale and intention the sculptural objects are a vehicle for the exploration of life’s vulnerabilities and a platform for sanctity and contemplation.



Boundless, Chris Perry, 92 Ripples well

Chris Perry, 92 Ripples well, 2011. Paper, fabric, gel acetate, mirror, 3 x 21 x 21 in.

Chris Perry‘s book constructions elegantly invite us into an ordered, fluid, textural and structural experience. Cascading paper, layered or spouting from a stack of volumes, mimics and implies the focus on water and our environment. Reductive and additive elements find a balance in Perry’s works suggestive of the balance needed on Planet Earth.




Boundless, Erin Walrath, Consumed

Erin Walrath, Consumed, 2013. Book covers, archival glue, wooden drum, 22 in. diam., 12 in. deep.

Erin Walrath‘s nest-like forms entice as well as excite the eye with their organic shapes thick with fragments of font, text, fiber, color in partly recognizable book covers and spines. One finds a refuge in their densely-layered and textural structure; as well as a joy in discovering these hybrid forms.

Boundless is exclusive to the Hill-Stead Museum and is guest curated by Carole P. Kunstadt in collaboration with Melanie Bourbeau, Curator & Director of Interpretation and Programs and Susan Ballek, Executive Director, Hill-Stead Museum.