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.

Speaking of arrivals, we are also overjoyed to announce that May Market is back! In keeping with the times, it will look slightly different this year, entirely outside and spread widely across our grounds for safety’s sake. It will have an additional third day to enjoy, running from National Arbor Day on Friday, April 30 through Sunday, May 2. In spirit, however, this event remains unchanged. We are immensely grateful to be able to host this perennial favorite again, to welcome spring together. For more information and tickets, please visit our May Market events page.

Mary and Joseph Sargent at the 2005 Hill-Stead Gala Benefit

And speaking of natural wonders, during this month of celebrating women’s history, I would like to celebrate one of our longtime and leading supporters, Mary Sargent. Mary is among the extraordinary females who, across generations, have devoted themselves and their talents to preserving Theodate’s Hill-Stead. Not only does Mary hold the title of the longest-serving board president, but she also shepherded the institution through a significant period of growth in the 1990s. Mary also founded crucial organizations that are still the backbone of our financial wellbeing, including the Theodate Pope Riddle Society and the Legacy Society. At our present moment of transformational growth with the renovation nearly complete, Mary continues to support and serve to this day. Please enjoy her story, and the many reasons to include Hill-Stead in your estate planning in our newly minted Legacy Society Newsletter.

And please know you are welcome at Hill-Stead, to enjoy our resources of art and nature. The spring blossoms, artistic marvels, and lambs await your visit!

Dr. Anna Swinbourne, Executive Director & CEO

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

March 20, 2020

Dear Friends,

I woke early and visited Hill-Stead to watch the sunrise on this equinox day when, in just the right celestial alignment, 12 hours of daylight match 12 of night. I took this photo and listened to this music, Cai Thomas singing Handel’s Lascia ch’io pianga, as I welcomed spring.

At this moment, I paused to think about the anomalies of the seasons, halfway between the Winter and Summer solstice, when the winds of change serve as a metaphor for our current state of affairs. At once, we are on the precipice of a new transformative chapter for our cultural center, all while dealing with the ongoing world health crisis. Continue reading

February 1, 2020

Dear Friends,

With only weeks-in as Executive Director, I am writing to thank you for your support through the transition and for your many good wishes as we begin a new chapter at Hill-Stead. With you with us, the museum is stronger and better able to move quickly in exciting new directions.

On Valentine’s Day evening, we hosted our first dramatic reading of Shakespeare in the drawing room. Known to many from their summertime outdoor festival in West Hartford, Shakespeare under the Stars, the performers of Capital Classics Theatre Company read, sang, and channeled pieces of Shakespearean love. At one particularly heady moment, I looked from the individuals to the walls – where the paintings seemed aglow – and thought about the marvelous artistic dialogue occurring before my eyes, a conversation spanning centuries and mediums. The words of Shakespeare, the actors interpreting them, as their musician accompanied, and all presented within a setting filled with magnificent examples of fine and decorative arts. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was sitting in – inch by the square inch – the most artistically creative room in Connecticut?! Continue reading