Director’s Message – August 3, 2022

Dear Friends,

“Good news department” was the title of a recent message from our partners at Clatter Ridge Farm, whose sheep live at Hill-Stead. I found their tidings not just good, but glorious: we don’t mow but leave the grooming of our pastures to the sheep, and since those sheep don’t eat milkweed, we have created an environment that’s extra friendly to the monarch butterfly, just recently added to the endangered species list.

I must admit that I was exceptionally proud of Hill-Stead! Yet another way that we’re honoring our nature-loving and preservationist founder, Theodate.

A monarch butterfly at Hill-Stead & STEAM Academy 4th graders at our Hilma’s Ghost exhibit.

Their message got me thinking of all the other good news around here. There is Sonya Kix, a neighbor and supporter, who showed the staff how much she appreciates their work by making and serving a five-course, fully homemade, delicious lunch; in similar fashion, our Board President Lavell Thompson hosted a Jubilee-themed party to thank our Hill-Steader and garden volunteers; Rachel Gerstein, an art historian, gave the museum an incredible 75th birthday gift: she led the charge to attribute a beguiling painting hanging in the green room to the lesser-known French Impressionist, Henri Martin; our Director of Education, Margaret Vaughan is running our half of an excellent collaboration with Farmington Continuing Education, a summer STEAM camp that brings 150+ students to the museum every morning for two weeks; and two-in-one, Hilma’s Ghost, the artist collective from Brooklyn created artwork inspired by their first visit here, now on view in our inaugural exhibition of the Strong Women series, made possible by our friends at DesignSourceCT.

Sonya Kix’s five-course lunch & Lavell Thompson’s Jubilee party.

Beyond today, there is much more good to come at the museum this summer: you can listen to classical music played by Ballard Chamber Collective one week from tonight; help celebrate the 30th birthday of our beloved Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, with a veritable feast of events recognizing its past and future; get your tarot cards read, or even learn to read them yourself; bring a child to the museum and get in free, thanks to a generous grant from the state of Connecticut; spend Monday Night at the Opera in the Garden, savoring the performance of Opera Connecticut; or, marvel at the dancers of Pilobolus, returning to our front lawn just after [summer-stealing] Labor Day. The details for all are available by clicking on the hyperlinks or visiting our website,

There is joy in bucking the human tendency to look past the nine good things that happened in favor of the one bad. Please come and join us at Hill-Stead, where we prize that good and try our best to keep eyes on it.



Dr. Anna Swinbourne
Executive Director & CEO