Three Things to Know – January 14, 2021

In the spirit of our tech-driven times, I am honored to bring you the eighth installment of “Hill-Stead Museum’s Three Things to Know” to kick-off 2021.

Straight out of the starting gate, Hill-Stead was featured on Better Connecticut this week on CBS (Ch3/WFSB). We should all be proud to see our beloved cultural hub gaining such well-deserved visibility with 5:30 minutes of television airtime.

1 Winter on the Hill nature and arts program has been such a success that the program continues in 2021 with both in-person and virtual programming. In tribute to Martin Luther King Day, we are pleased to offer students a free one-hour program on January 18 at 11 am (grades 3–5) or 1 pm. (grades 6–8). The virtual session includes both independent and collaborative art-making led by Hill-Stead’s resident artist and education specialist, Rachel Cutler. During the engaging workshop, the students will reflect on Martin Luther King’s legacy by analyzing his words and dreams with those of Hill-Stead’s founder, Theodate Pope Riddle.

There will be back-to-back in-person sessions of Winter on the Hill at Hill-Stead on February 15 & 16 from 1-4 p.m. to coincide with President’s Day vacation time.

2 Hill-Stead is carrying on with its 2020 practice of joining hands with fellow arts organizations. This time, we join Capital Classics Theatre Company in presenting Contemporary Classics Conversations on Saturday, January 23, 2021, at 7:30 pm. The event is complimentary, and all are welcome to join us via Zoom for an insightful and lively evening of conversation inspired by Athol Fugard’s one-act play, Victory. Set in New South Africa, following the first free election in 1994, Victory features two adolescents discovered while robbing a home. Their discovery leads to a night of dialogue, revealing the hardships of living in apartheid-created poverty. Capital Classics Theatre Company artists will perform scene readings examining the despair of many young Black citizens in South Africa who see little prospect of a constructive future. Between excerpts, the audience will discuss the play’s themes and their relevance and resemblance to our world today.

3We are excited to announce Hill-Stead’s very first Walktail Hour on Saturday, January 30, from 3:30–5:30 pm. with an inclement weather date of Sunday, January 31 (same timing). Enjoy the Hill-Stead’s gorgeous grounds as you safely sip and stroll during the magical sunset hour while taking in the breathtaking views of our outdoor masterpiece. Admission will be free, with beverages available for purchase from The Liquorist on-site in their mobile bar (once a 1970’s horse trailer!). Imagine a beautiful sunset, a warm, delicious drink, stretching your legs, together with a loved one in the refreshing early evening air – the perfect end-of-day antidote to the winter blues!

Best always,

Three Things to Know – December 9, 2020

In the spirit of our tech-driven times, I am honored to bring you the seventh installment of “Hill-Stead Museum’s Three Things to Know” on this crisp December day.

1 First, it is my pleasure to report that visitors are enjoying The Nutcracker Reimagined by Ballet Theatre Company two weeks into the exhibition. NBC national news ran a segment on the show last Friday across all 12 major markets, including Connecticut, New York, and Boston. We should all be proud to gain positive press for pulling off yet another incredible initiative amid the pandemic. Continue reading

Three Things to Know – November 11, 2020

In the spirit of our tech-driven times, I am honored to bring you the sixth installment of “Hill-Stead Museum’s Three Things to Know” this Veteran’s Day. We thank you and invite all those who served to take a complimentary House Tour this weekend.

1 With the holidays ahead, we invite you to celebrate the season at Hill-Stead! Enjoy The Nutcracker Reimagined brought to us by Ballet Theatre Company, including a costume exhibition, dance performances, and special events. Imagine the museum decked out in festive garb with 20 sparkling pieces from the theatre company’s Through the Tulle costume exhibition? Special House tour tickets are available for purchase and going fast! The Carriage Porch will come alive with BTC’s resident professional dancers as they twirl, leap, and pirouette in their very own snow globe. Visitors will be mesmerized as they watch from the outside, transported to New York City’s Fifth Avenue for a stunning window display.

Throughout the run of the presentation, there will be a host of incredible programs including two Snowflake Soirees (Friday, December 11 & Saturday, December 12 at 7 pm). These intimate, socially distanced performances in the Makeshift Theatre will feature twenty-year-old ballet principal Roman Mejia, Resident Guest Dancer from New York City Ballet along with BTC’s Season Dancers. Following the performance, there will be a Q & between the audience, BTC’s artistic team, and dancers. Thematic dessert and libations will be the icing on the cake. Sugarplums, anyone?

Continue reading

Three Things to Know – October 9, 2020

For your Friday! In the spirit of our tech-driven times, I am delighted to bring you the fifth installment of Hill-Stead Museum’s Three Things to Know.

1) As the perfect capstone of our diverse and dynamic 2020 From the Porch performing arts series, Hill-Stead and Opera Connecticut join together on October 25 at 3 pm to honor the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her great love of opera! International opera stars Ta’u Pupu’a and Thomas Cannon and local luminary Elizabeth Lyra Ross will sing Puccini, Verdi, and more!  The notorious RBG was a legal, cultural, and feminist icon of the highest order. It is most fitting to honor her at Hill-Stead, founded by Theodate Riddle Pope, our nation’s fourth female architect and a visionary female leader in her own right. Don’t fret if you cannot be there in person. You can tune in from the comfort of your home with a live-stream presentation as it happens. Continue reading

What Matters Most Photo Contest Winners

And the winners are…

Everyone has a story to tell and this contest provided a forum to capture unexpected outcomes, epiphanies of personal discovery, and moments of pure joy and connection. We invited photographers to submit their best work. The public voted on the submissions based on their ability to capture four themes:  Art In All Its Forms, Creature ComfortsSummertime Funand Victory Gardens. Because there were so many wonderful photos, we are also highlighting a staff pick for each category.

Winners receive $50, promotion of their photography via Hill-Stead’s website & social channels, a certificate for a personalized VIP Tour of Hill-Stead Museum, and bragging rights!

Art in All Its Forms

Loving Summer, Lauren Krupnikoff

WINNER: Loving Summer, Lauren Krupnikoff

My friend and I were by the water not too long ago, and we saw that the sun was starting to set. So we decided to try this cool idea of doing a heart with our hands surrounding the sun as it sets.

She Dances Anyway, Nora H.

STAFF PICK: She Dances Anyway, Nora H.

This is Kiersten. Her beloved dance studio was shut down and the recital she was starring in cancelled because of COVID. But she keeps dancing. She records dances in her backyard to songs like “Six Feet Apart.” She and I dance in the rain together and throw rocks into the river because we’re so angry at the way our lives have been put on pause. She dances in public parks with a mask. Because this is her art. And it is what matters most to her.”

Creature Comforts

Bobcat NeighborRobert Trafford

WINNER: Bobcat Neighbor, Robert Trafford

This fellow sat outside my just slider and just stared.

Serinity, Sofia A.

STAFF PICK:  Serinity, Sofia A.

Bird on the dock at Cozumel Island

Summertime Fun

Summer Croquet at Hill-Stead, David Ciriello

WINNER: Summer Croquet at Hill-Stead, David Ciriello

Our son and a friendly pup played and danced the night away under the sun as we played croquet and caught the sunset.”

Bronx Sprinkler, Barbara O.

STAFF PICK:  Bronx Sprinkler, Barbara O.

Summer in the city..near Yankee Stadium

Victory Gardens

Tulips in the Sunken Garden, Rachael Ann

WINNER: Tulips in the Sunken Garden, Rachael Ann

“Hill-Stead Museum and Sunken Garden, July 2019. Shot in the infrared range of light.”

Brighter Days,  Emi Z.

STAFF PICK:  Brighter Days, Emi Z.

As I wandered the sunflower maze with my friend after the hurricane, we noticed many of the sunflowers had been pushed over. This one however, stood tall and upright. It’s a great reminder of staying strong, positive and bright even when things in the world are dark and difficult. There are always brighter days ahead.”

Three Things to Know – September 8, 2020

In the spirit of our tech-driven times, I am delighted to bring you the fourth installment of Hill-Stead Museum’s Three Things to Know.

1) Due to popular demand, Hill-Stead continues its phenomenal From the Porch performing arts programming. Hill-Stead has created its own version of Tanglewood, collaborating with 20 institutions, 80 artists, and bringing together over 1700 patrons to date for music, film, theater, comedy, and more!

Continue reading

Three Things to Know – August 5, 2020

In the spirit of our tech-driven times, I am delighted to bring you the third installment of Hill-Stead Museum’s Three Things to Know.

1) Hill-Stead continues to bring the magic with its phenomenal summer programming! From the Porch, our inaugural multicultural performing arts series appears in more than a dozen articles. Here are some of the recent clips, highlighting the series, including not one but three feature articles in The Hartford Courant. Coverage includes today’s article on our upcoming Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, a full account of our summer series, along with a front-page story from last weekend’s Dance of Da Vinci 2.0 (pictured here).

In the coming weeks, the lineup includes music, film, theater, comedy, and more, so please join us for extraordinary evenings under the moonlit among our creative spirits, crickets, and fireflies! Continue reading

Three Things to Know – June 19, 2020

In the spirit of our tech-driven times, I am delighted to bring you the second installment of “Hill-Stead Museum’s Three Things to Know.”

1.) With the official first day of summer around the corner, Hill-Stead is beyond thrilled to bring you From the Porch, our inaugural multicultural performing arts series. Please join us for this diverse and dynamic showcase featuring music, dance, theater, and more! The series celebrates the “Year of the Woman,” to coincide with the centennial of women’s suffrage with signature events to amplify women’s crucial role in history.

First up, vocal-guitar duo Kristen Renehan and Jim Mastrianni create an elegant, enjoyable musical experience for all ages. This Saturday’s family-friendly prelude performance will include jazz, pop, soul, rock, and folk music with a twist.

Then, join us on Friday, July 26, for an opening night celebration to remember. Tammy Denease, an accomplished storyteller and actor, will perform as Sarah Margu, a captive on the Amistad. Powerful songstress Elizabeth Lyra Ross will also headline the event with a voice to make angels weep. Her distinguished career has included performances with the Metropolitan Opera and an Emmy Award nomination.

Don’t fret if you cannot be there in person. You can tune in from the comfort of your home with a Livestream presentation as it happens. Tickets to the upcoming events are going fast! Purchase yours today and tell your friends!

2.) Where better for children to spend summer than Hill-Stead. Now your children or grandchildren can “Summer on the Hill” with a four-week in-person workshop series offered from July 14- August 14, perfectly pairing painting with nature. Hill-Stead’s own resident artist and educator Rachel Cutler introduces young artists to drawing and painting en Plein air. As we say at Hill-Stead, “If you like Bob Ross, you are going to LOVE Rachel!”

Courses are offered two days per week from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Tuesdays & Thursdays OR Wednesdays & Fridays. Space is limited to 10 students, so please sign up now to reserve your spot. To register, please email Kate Ebner, Director of Education, at

At the same time, Hill-Stead’s education department runs a virtual summer arts series for seniors, exclusively for Duncaster residents. If the pilot proves successful, it will serve as a model for future programs.

Summertime Fun

For creative spirits near and far, Hill-Stead’s What Matters Most Photography Contest allows those from all over the world to submit their photography. Everyone has a story to tell, and this contest provides a forum to capture unexpected outcomes, epiphanies of personal discovery, and moments of pure joy and connection. In doing so, Hill-Stead hopes to build a global community of artists and art enthusiasts. Please enter your work or vote through September 21.

3.) This year, Hill-Stead will host six separate benefit dinners (yes, you heard correctly, in lieu of our annual gala we will hold a bevy of special evenings!). Affectionately coined, Theodate and Tyler: For the Love of Hill-Stead, these exceptional farm-to-table experiences – intended for up to 75 guests each evening – will be created by celebrity chef Tyler Anderson and take place on the gorgeous grounds of Hill-Stead from Thursday, July 23 through Thursday, September 10. These stunning affairs will include special guest appearances, multi-course dinners with wine pairings, and, after-parties in the Sunken Garden. In addition to the live events, there will be a silent auction open to all with new items added throughout the summer. Stay tuned for more details soon!

I am eager to hear from you. Your questions, ideas, and inspirations are welcome. Share a comment on a post relevant to the topic or email

I will strive to respond to questions as soon as possible, generally within 24 hours.

Best wishes,
Beth Brett
Director of Communications and Marketing

A New Multicultural Performing Arts Summer Series

Building on the success of Hill-Stead’s indoor events and nationally acclaimed Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, From the Porch summer programming will take place on our 152-acre campus. The experiential events will happen several nights per week and be open to audiences of all ages.

Hill-Stead will kick off the inaugural series with a venerable celebration of the “Year of the Woman,” to coincide with the centennial of women’s suffrage. Our signature events will amplify women’s crucial role in history.

Bring a blanket and picnic or order beverages online through The Wise Old Dog (check back soon for beverage ordering link).

See all upcoming From the Porch events

Prelude Event – Kristen Renehan and Jim Mastrianni

June 20, 2020
6:30 to 8 pm

Tickets | $25 per person

Vocal-guitar duo Kristen Renehan and Jim Mastrianni bring their time and talent to Hill-Stead. Classically trained, musically appealing and daringly eclectic, the two musicians combine beautiful vocals with tasteful guitar to create an elegant, interesting musical experience for all ages. Next Saturday’s family-friendly performance will include jazz, pop, soul, rock and folk music with a twist.

Opening Night – Tammy Denease & Elizabeth Lyra Ross

June 26, 2020
6:30 to 8 pm

To coincide with the centennial of women’s suffrage, Hill-Stead will kick off its inaugural series with a venerable celebration of the Year of the Woman. The evening filled with storytelling and song will amplify women’s crucial role in history.

Tickets | $20 per person

Tammy Denease, an accomplished storyteller, actor, historian, and playwright will be performing as Sarah Margu, a captive on the slave ship, Amistad. Margu went on to become the first African to graduate from college in America (Oberlin College, Ohio). Tammy proudly brings the lives of significant, yet “hidden” women in history to life. Tammy received the gift of storytelling from her great-grandmother, a former enslaved person who lived to be 125, and grandmother, who lived to 100.

We are equally delighted to bring songstress Elizabeth Lyra Ross to the stage for our opening night. Elizabeth is the first African American female member of The U.S. Army Band and Chorus. Since completing her enlistment, her international career has included performances in Aida, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, Santuzza, and as both Bess and Serena in Porgy and Bess. Elizabeth has performed with the Metropolitan Opera and she was nominated for an Emmy Award on the Live from Lincoln Center Series.

Announcing the winners of the 2020 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition

Congratulations, Poets!

The winners are:

Haneen Alkabasi, Avon High School
Alicia Chiu, William H. Hall High School
Jake Colangelo, Joel Barlow High School
Olatunji Osho-Williams, Westminster School
Maggie Munday Odom, The Grove School
Charlotte Watts, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts


For the first time, the Fresh Voices readings were performed live via zoom.  Many things were missing from the event—the historical and beautiful setting, the applause of the crowd, live music, and contemplative silences between each reading.  Zoom can never replace live art.  But even virtually, the students’ poetry was transcending.  For one evening, these young poets created a community through their creativity, intense curiosity, and commitment.

Hill-Stead Museum is grateful to all the Fresh Voices Finalists for their efforts and willingness to participate. We are immensely appreciative of the Fresh Voices Judges, who had a challenging task this year!  Thanks, too, to parents and teachers who supported our poets! A special thanks to Hill-Stead Museum’s sponsors and donors, especially the Ellen Jean Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust, our members, and our amazing interns and volunteers.

A video compilation of the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition reading will be coming soon for everyone to enjoy!

Please join us at the opening of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival on Sunday, August 9. Winners will read their poems in person at Young Poets Day featuring acclaimed spoken word poet and activist, Mahogany L. Browne.

Learn more about the Fresh Voice Poetry Competition