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.

Joining Susan in a new challenge is Beth Brett, who will serve as the museum’s Chief Advancement Officer, overseeing all development and marketing efforts. While relatively new to the area and museum, Beth has fallen head-first in love with our founder’s story, the home she built, the wonders within, the land that surrounds it, and the drive to preserve them all. With that passion, she will inspire others to join her in this most critical of mandates: sustaining what Theodate generously left us.

Adapting. Continually. Our traditional house on the hill has become quite good at it, and proudly so, as adaptability is the name of today’s game!

And speaking of today, I close by acknowledging two special things for us in February. Firstly, our founder’s birthday on the 2nd – for more on twisty-turning research road to determine the actual date of Theodate’s birth, please visit our blog post – and, second, a family tradition that was surely inspired by the love and joy of that arrival, the sending of Valentines. There are countless versions of beautifully designed cards in our archives, and, in my own modest attempt, I created one to send wishes to you!


Dr. Anna Swinbourne, Executive Director & CEO



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *