Director’s Message – September 2, 2021

Dear Friends, 

I’ll admit that the end of summer might be my least favorite time of year. And it’s especially hard to say goodbye to the wonderful art- and fun-filled months we just had at the museum. Yet, as I look to Labor Day and another autumn of COVID, I cannot help but feel a crazy-deep gratitude for the grounds at Hill-Stead. They will carry us through. Again.

Up first on the front lawn will be a revamped Sunken Garden Poetry Festival. Over three consecutive days, September 10–12, we will proudly present the 29th annual program with an impressive roster of authors, musicians, and timely topics. Jennifer Xie, Martín Espada, and our state’s Poet Laureate, Margaret Gibson, will headline a poetry-packed weekend with readings, workshops, and musical performances. Their subjects will be of utmost relevance to our lives, whether in terms of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, climate change, or commentary on capital in many forms. You may choose to visit for one event, one day, or the whole weekend. Please see our website for details and timing, and consider joining us, to let the words of these talented artists dazzle, move, or possibly inspire you.
Buy Festival Tickets!

Toward the end of the month, on Sunday the 26th, the wildly popular Walktails we hosted earlier in the year will return as a September Stroll. The idea remains the same, walk the grounds with a seasonal beverage and fun companion or two, but the backdrop will be all new. Forget the freezing February cold or March muck, and imagine stunning (likely breathtaking) foliage as far as your eyes can see.

And because new is especially good during pandemic conditions that seem endless, we also added new elements. For those visitors who purchase, or have purchased this year, a Silver membership, there will be the opportunity to take an exclusive guided tour after the sun goes down for a rare nighttime visit inside the museum with the chance to see the world-class paintings glow under evening light. And for those who purchase membership at the highest level, Gold, we will offer something rarer still: a chance to watch the sunset from the roof of the veranda, where very few can and have appreciated that overwhelmingly beautiful experience.

Buy September Stroll Tickets!

With the hopes that these wonders will bring joy and fuel our stamina for the uncertain days ahead, I look forward to seeing you at one or both,
and wish you well,

Dr. Anna Swinbourne, Executive Director & CEO

Director’s Message – May 21, 2021

Dear Friends, 

I think my colleagues at HillStead were taken aback by how eagerly I jumped on their suggestion of tethered hot air balloon rides for this year’s gala dinners. They had no idea that my all-time favorite wedding reception included these magical experiences. Nor did they know how badly I needed a reminder of the beautiful wonders of our world.

I am thrilled to share that they have turned this terrific idea into reality. For four evenings this summer, June 11 & 12 and July 9 & 10, one can attend the dinners and float above the treetops at HillStead—savoring the landscape’s natural beauty and supporting the museum!

This feature will be one among many elements of an evening designed to nurture our senses of adventure and exoticism. Inspired by the European travels of our founder, Theodate Pope Riddle, the June nights will bring you France and July Spain – in terms of food and wine, and even entertainment (think Flamenco dancers and French fashion for sale!).

While much has changed at HillStead in the past year, the fact that these dinners are our single biggest fundraiser has not. We, therefore, hope that you will consider joining us for a very memorable evening benefiting a great cause.

I look forward to seeing you!

For more details and ticket information, please click here.


Dr. Anna Swinbourne, Executive Director & CEO

Director’s Message – March 30, 2021

Dear Friends,

The miracle of birth has arrived at Hill-Stead! We are delighted to introduce adorable Ulysses, the first of this year’s group of new lambs. (welcome to the world, little guy, we are trying to make it better for you!) With many more lambies expected in the coming weeks, we warmly invite you to come for a visit to see this natural wonder for yourselves, and if desired, to join our contest to name three of the newborns (or dedicate a trail or an outdoor bench) through our Healthy Living Campaign. Continue reading

Director’s Message – February 12, 2021

Dear Friends,

When the pandemic arrived and closed so much down, Hill-Stead pivoted to bring experiences of art and nature back into your lives. Now, February is bringing us snow, and we’re donning boots to dance (and make snow angels) in the winter wonderland, trying once again to create more ways to serve our visitors and spread some joy. To that end, we’ve launched winter winter walktails—a stroll through the grounds, on the arm of a pal, with a warm drink in hand—and, I’m giddy to announce, our first-ever snowman* building contest. Come to Hill-Stead in your outerwear, make the snowy creature of your dreams, and try for the prize! (For details on both events, please visit our Calendar.)

This new nimble reality of museum life – stop, quickly assess the conditions, acknowledge them as ever-changing, take a deep breath, and then respond, bravely! – has inspired some changes behind the scenes as well. I am thrilled to announce that Susan Orred will be stepping into a new role as Director of Public Programming at the museum. Not only did those types of outward-facing and community events, such as From the Porch, save our bacon last year, but they have also become one of the most vital and exciting aspects of our mission to serve the public. With her genuine enthusiasm for and deep knowledge of the museum, surpassed only by her devotion to it, Susan is the ideal person to lead this crucial path forward. Continue reading

Director’s Message – November 20, 2020

Dear Friends,

I hope this crisp November day finds you well. Looking ahead to Thanksgiving, the entire team here would like to express our immense gratitude for your continued passion and positivity for our beloved Hill-Stead.

This season, we are thankful that the museum remains open with the most stringent safety measures in place. Better yet, we are delighted to invite you to celebrate the holidays at Hill-Stead! We have joined hands with Ballet Theatre Company (BTC) to reimagine The Nutcracker. Winter festivities will include a memorable Through the Tulle exhibition paired with ballet performances in the Carriage Porch. Our masterpieces, such as Degas’ Dancers in Pink, will join both live dancers and stunning costumes as they together festively enliven the rooms of the historic house.

Continue reading

October 21, 2020

Dear Friends,

Mindful that none of us need another long email to read, I will this time be brief.

Hill-Stead has responded to the challenges of 2020 with adaptability and open-mindedness, keeping its grounds open to the public despite widespread closures. And our beloved Museum became much more than a place of refuge when we brought live experiences of art back into people’s lives with From the Porch. Since early summer, this incredible initiative united a diverse and dynamic group of partners across the performing arts sphere and brought an audience of more than 2,000 to the Museum’s front lawn. Continue reading

Director’s Messeage – September 22, 2020

Dear Friends,

After the long, bright sunlit days of summer brimming with activity, I find autumn – with its earlier sunsets and longer shadows – to be an ideal time for thoughtful introspection.

There’s been plenty to reflect upon over the last six months. On the spring equinox, I wrote to confirm that Hill-Stead would keep its grounds open to the public despite the widespread closures due to the coronavirus. Our 152-acre grounds became much more than a place of refuge when we brought live experiences of art back into people’s lives! To coincide with the summer solstice, we launched From the Porch, an inaugural initiative, radiating with beauty and creativity as we extended our hand to a diverse and dynamic group of partners across the performing arts sphere. Continue reading

June 12, 2020

Dear Friends,

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington CT

With the imminent approach of Summer Solstice—a precise planetary moment when the Earth’s tilt reaches its zenith—I take solace in knowing that I am part of a global community. It happens at an exact moment; it is the same moment everywhere on Earth. We cannot take it back; we can only move forward together.

On this day (June 20), we invite you to come to Hill-Stead and step outside with us at the moment of the Solstice. To pause, be present, and mindful in this powerful and challenging moment in our collective history. Continue reading

April 15, 2020

Dear Friends,

The spirit of spring gives rise to resilience. Hill-Stead Museum bears witness to nature’s remarkable transformation from the birth of lambs in our fields to forsythia’s fiery light and magnolia buds bursting into springtime snowballs.

While the world retreats into quarantine, Hill-Stead is experiencing a moment. With it, we are embracing an unchangeable truth about being human: with a past that is behind us, and a future uncertain, what we do have is the present. In this present—a world filled with constraints of what we cannot, or should not, do—we present a possibility: visit Hill-Stead, to experience and marvel anew at nature’s miraculous power to create; and please do continue to share with us the stories of your visits! Continue reading

March 27, 2020

Dear Friends,

Collective creativity is born from moments like this. The arts have the power to heal. And making art is good for your health! Now more than ever, art is a critical vehicle for staying healthy and connected with the greater community. At Hill-Stead Museum, we are thrilled to offer meaningful creative outlets to uplift the spirit during this unprecedented moment in time.
Continue reading