Director’s Message – May 12, 2023

Dear Friends,

A masterpiece to me is a creation that never stops giving – no matter how well I think I know it; it will reveal something new every time I encounter it. I then walk away a different person, always richer from the experience, every time.

Beginning three weeks ago, Hill-Stead again proved itself a masterpiece, this time by allowing us to turn back the clock and recreate the rooms as they were when Theodate’s parents lived there – rooms filled with (even more) paintings that we passionately hunted down and brought back, to return them to the exact spots where they once hung. Now we can marvel at them exactly as Alfred and Ada did. We can imagine what it was like to eat dinner while sandwiched between Impressionist glories. And we can better appreciate the success of Theodate’s loving intention: to design a home as an ideal backdrop for her father’s exquisite art.

We warmly invite you to come and experience this installation, Hill-Stead anew, before the paintings we borrowed are returned to their present owners and the magic of the rooms circa 1910 disappears again forever.

This exhibition, like all our work at the museum, is sustained by those who believe in and support us. Honoring and celebrating these individuals is one of our top priorities, and we are thrilled to be hosting many of them at our annual gala next weekend on Saturday, May 20th. This event is the single biggest fundraiser of the year!

That night, we plan to transport guests to Paris of 1888 with its Belle Époque in full swing. Not just a novel party idea, this theme is deeply meaningful to the museum. The once-and-future Hill-Stead can trace its roots back to this place at this historic moment – where young Theodate saw the Eiffel Tower and famed Sacre Coeur church being built before her eyes, and where father Alfred bought his first Monet painting.

Belle Epoque Paris had legendary art, fashion, culture, vibrancy, and … nightlife (it was lauded as the best in Europe!). People from all walks of life flocked and mingled there to be dazzled and entertained by spectacles of all kinds, from dance and concert halls to shadow theater and the circus. Awe. Curiosity. Openness. Revelry. Daring. The air of Paris was thick with such things during this alluring, creative time.

Because of this, we are encouraging guests to dress in any manner they wish, an invitation to Do You. A grande dame or a barmaid. An artist or the model. A circus performer. Your favorite historic figure (then alive and likely visitor to gay Par-ee). Your best 2023 Diva. Whatever you wish, whatever makes you happy!

On May 20th, Hill-Stead will become the dance hall on the hill, beaming with life and celebrating all those who give of themselves to preserve our American treasure. Come, join us, browse the wonderful items to be auctioned that evening, and be dazzled. It will be marvelous.

I promise.


Dr. Anna Swinbourne
Executive Director & CEO