Dr. Anna Swinbourne Appointed Executive Director & CEO of Hill-Stead Museum

The Trustees and Board of Governors of Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, are proud to announce that Dr. Anna Swinbourne has accepted appointment as Executive Director & CEO of Hill-Stead Museum and will assume the role’s full responsibilities in February 2020. Dr. Swinbourne has been the museum’s acting Interim Executive Director since August 2019.

“Hill-Stead Museum has made steady progress over the past few years in becoming an even more enriching, dynamic and sustainable institution, and Dr. Swinbourne is eager and excited to help us write the newest chapter of its storied existence,” says Hill-Stead Museum Board President Mark Shaw.

As Hill-Stead closes in on 75 years as the embodiment of founder Theodate Pope’s extraordinary vision, the site is embarking on a transformative journey that will see it become a world-renown, multi-disciplinary beacon to many more generations of inspired visitors. To lead the museum through this critical phase of activity, Hill-Stead has secured a leader with industry connections, a broad social network and top-notch intellectual acumen; who also can operate at the highest level of integrity with unflagging enthusiasm for the institution’s evolving mission.

Dr. Swinbourne joined Hill-Stead Museum in a lifetime appointment as museum trustee in 2018. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of art history at Trinity College. She recently served as event co-chair, alongside luminaries Agnes Gund and Oprah Winfrey, for Sotheby’s By Women, For Tomorrow’s Women: the first-ever all-women benefit auction at a major auction house. Proceeds from the auction exceeded $3M for financial aid at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington.

From 1999-2009, Dr. Swinbourne was on the painting and sculpture curatorial staff at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. In 2011, for her service to the Kingdom of Belgium, she was decorated by King Albert II and became a Knight of the Order of the Crown.

“Dr. Swinbourne is a highly regarded and active member of both the local Farmington Valley community and global art/museum industry,” adds Nina Mayhall Hayes, longtime Colonial Dames Trustee of Hill-Stead Museum and Farmington resident. “Our mandate as trustees is to preserve the future of Hill-Stead by installing leadership that will enable the institution to thrive. We are so fortunate to have found a champion for the institution who, much in the same vein as its visionary founder, Theodate Pope Riddle, will strive to keep the museum’s world-class collections and grounds accessible and to ensure the future of the organization remains bright.”

James Fanelli, Managing Director at The Private Bank at Bank of America, and Bank Trustee, Secretary and Treasurer of Hill-Stead Museum seconded Hayes’ enthusiasm and support for the museum’s new captain. “Dr. Swinbourne exhibits a depth of industry knowledge that is breath-taking and impressive,” Fanelli says. “With her unmatched experience and prestigious reputation as an award-winning professional in the art world, she will ensure Hill-Stead remains on the ascent; she is a worthy rival and colleague on par, and eager to collaborate, with the other fine leaders of Connecticut’s most distinguished cultural organizations.”

Anna Swinbourne, Ph.D., is an independent art historian, curator and art advisor engaged in a variety of scholarly and art-market endeavors. She is currently interim executive director and CEO of Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Conn., and visiting assistant professor of art history at Trinity College.

Most recently, Dr. Swinbourne served as event co-chair, alongside luminaries Agnes Gund and Oprah Winfrey, for Sotheby’s By Women, For Tomorrow’s Women: the first-ever all-women artist auction at a major auction house. Proceeds from the auction exceeded $3M and benefitted financial aid at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington in commemoration of the school’s 175th anniversary.

Her current and recent projects include a collection catalogue for the late David Rockefeller; an exhibition on Paul Cézanne landscapes for Princeton University Art Museum and the Royal Academy of London, opening in 2020.

From 1999 to 2009, Dr. Swinbourne was on the curatorial staff at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, where she curated – either independently, or with Chief Curators, Kirk Varnedoe and John Elderfield – major exhibitions on the work of Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Édouard Manet, and James Ensor. The last two exhibitions were awarded First Prize for Best Historical Show of the year by the International Art Critics Association (AICA).

In 2011, for her service to the Kingdom of Belgium, she was decorated by King Albert II and became a Knight of the Order of the Crown.

Prior to joining MoMA, Anna was an assistant vice president in the Impressionist and Modern Art Department of Sotheby’s, New York. She was trained at the École du Louvre in Paris, Tufts University (B.A.), and the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University (M.A.; Ph.D.). She is a trustee of Hill-Stead Museum and member of the Art Advisory Committee of the King Baudouin Foundation United States.

Free School Programs at Hill-Stead Museum

“We’re Pulling for You” grant from SBM Charitable Foundation offers field trips and outreach for East Hartford, Manchester, and Vernon/Rockville students 

 Hill-Stead Museum is pleased to announce that SBM Charitable Foundation, Inc. had awarded Hill-Stead a “We’re Pulling for You” grant in the amount of $33,125 in support of its “Art, Poetry and History at Hill-Stead Museum” program offered to East Hartford, Manchester, and Vernon/Rockville students. This program, in partnership with the SBM Charitable Foundation, has provided valuable Fine Arts, Language Arts, and World Languages themed educational programs for thousands of underserved students since 2006.

“We are delighted to be able to continue this important and valuable program,” said Dr. Anna Swinbourne, Interim Executive Director & CEO of Hill-Stead Museum. “Working together as partners, the schools’ educators and Hill-Stead Museum staff provide these students with an incomparable experience beyond the classroom, where they can learn about art and the humanities first-hand. Our unique setting is authentic and historically rich, and filled with the inspiring real-life stories of its founders and their ideals, as well as a world-class collection of decorative arts and French Impressionist masterpieces. The generous support of SBM Charitable Foundation makes this learning possible, and for that we are deeply grateful.”

“Hill-Stead Museum’s ‘Art, Poetry and History’ program is tied to the school curriculum and benefits so many school children in our area communities,” said Doreen Downham, Executive Director of SBM Charitable Foundation.  “The SBMCF is delighted to continue our funding support of the Museum to provide such a wonderfully successful education enrichment program for East of the River students.”

About the SBM Charitable Foundation
The SBM Charitable Foundation, Inc., perpetuating the vision of the former Savings Bank of Manchester, is committed to bettering the lives of those who live and work predominantly East of the River in Hartford, Tolland, and Windham Counties. Priorities established for the Foundation’s giving are Health, Human Services, Education, Housing, and the Arts.

2019 Fresh Voices Finalists Announced

Hill-Stead is honored to announce the finalists for the 2019 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition:

  • Riley Arellano – Naugatuck High School
  • Emily Benoit – Westover School
  • Sophia Ciraldo – Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Elizabeth Cook – Westover School
  • Danny Diaz- Villafane – Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Emily Fisher – Rockville High School
  • Liza Freeman – Westover School
  • Stella Georgian – East Lyme High School
  • Krista Mitchell – Stafford High School
  • Fiona Mucaj – The Ethel Walker School
  • Autumn Munsell – Granby Memorial High School
  • Jillian Potter – Naugatuck High School
  • Camden Robertson – Granby Memorial High School
  • Abigail Tyrrell – Rockville High School
  • Ava Varano – Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts

A Natural Parterre: An Environmental Garden Art Installation by Bob Chaplin

Installed in July 2019

Photographs by Bob Chaplin unless otherwise noted.


A New Site-Specific Artwork at Hill-Stead

In the fall of 2018, landscape artist Bob Chaplin began the installation of A Natural Parterre on the grounds of Hill-Stead Museum. Through this unique, site-specific artwork, the artist hopes to initiate a dialogue between ‘nature’ and man’s involvement to try and ‘tame’ nature. The installation is situated in the large meadow below and to the north Hill-Stead’s historic 1901 Colonial Revival house. It can be viewed from the museum’s west lawn and as part of Hill-Stead’s established, mowed, walking-path system. The parterre is designed to be experienced up-close and visitors are encouraged to walk through it.

The concept of the formal garden dates back to medieval times with gardens designed by monasteries for medicinal and herbal plantings, and later on with European palaces, manor houses and private estates. The initial idea of the French parterre garden, with carefully designed plots and walkways, was to present an artistic pattern when seen from above. This installation will examine and carry on the tradition of the formal garden, but with a twist.

The geometric garden design of A Natural Parterre is approximately 136 feet by 64 feet with pathways currently defined by wooden stakes and twine. The outlined garden sections between the pathways will not be planted like a traditional parterre and will not be mowed. As the grass begins to grow this spring, only the defined pathways will be mowed, providing increasing contrast against the unmown areas of the installation. Plant species will naturally come and go in the unmown areas, aided by the wind, birds and seed-carrying mammals. New seeds deposited by nature will gradually add diversity to the parterre, offering a visual progression from annuals to perennials, to shrubs and trees. Once the mowed pattern is established, the stakes and twine currently visible will be removed.

It is imperative that I encourage the general public and local students to observe the processes of change within the project. The process of observation and documentation of the seasonal changes over time are fundamental to the experience and understanding of this project. It is an integral part of the art I create. I look at it as a slowly evolving, long-term performance.

— Bob Chaplin

Area students, including those from Miss Porters School in Farmington, will help to support this project by observing and documenting the change in plant species and the involvement of birds and animals over time. Student assignments will include continuous plant identification, observation on how and which species evolve in the different sections, and projects identifying how the surrounding landscape has changed over the past century and a half. The effects of climate change and subsequent regional vegetation habits, together with the consequences of invasive plants versus indigenous, will be studied and interpreted for the public.

The museum’s grounds are open to the public year-round at no charge, and free parking is also provided, offering numerous opportunities for no-cost public viewing and interaction with the project as it naturally evolves.

Related Events

The artist will present a series of lectures at the museum, tailored for both adults and children, on the history and evolution of garden design and environmental art with a modern dialog on invasive plant species.

Please check back for details

Bob Chaplin moved from England to the United States in 1986. He was an adjunct professor at UCONN/Storrs, and at the University of Hartford’s Hartford Art School, and has lectured at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven. He was an Artist-in-Residence at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York and Weir Farm in Wilton, Connecticut. As well as many printmaking awards, he received two Polaroid Corporation Bursaries and a Connecticut Commission of the Arts Bursary.

Chaplin’s work is represented in many collections throughout the world including The Tate Gallery, London; Art Institute of Chicago, U.S.A.; Stedlijk Museum, Holland; National Museum, Warsaw, Poland; Museum of Modern Art Library, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art Library, New York; Getty Research Institute Library, California; The British Museum, London; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; The Arts Council of Great Britain; The British Council; The National Gallery Library, Washington, D.C.; New York Public Library; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; Museum of  Contemporary Art, Skopje, Yugoslavia; Stavanger Faste Galleri Permanent Collection, Norway and Nordnorske Kunstnersenter, Lofoten, Norway.

Hill-Stead receives State of Connecticut DECD Bond Funding

Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, State Rep. Mike Demicco, Hill-Stead’s Executive Director Susan Ballek, Governor Dannel P. Malloy and President of Hill-Stead’s Board of Governors Bill Watson.

Hill-Stead is thrilled to receive $1.75 million in State of Connecticut DECD bond funding to support the adaptive reuse of the museum’s Carriage Barn (adjacent to the historic house) to create a more welcoming visitor reception area, a new rotating exhibition gallery, an interactive interpretive space, a relocated and enlarged Museum Shop, an improved space for education programs and new ADA compliant restrooms.

This is the largest amount of state funding the museum has ever received and supports Hill-Stead’s $6.5 million capital and endowment campaign, which includes a $3.5 million capital renovation project.

Spend Your Summer On the Hill – for children 7 to 11


Play Like the Popes!

Hill‐Stead was once home to a private, six‐hole golf course, which is highlighted in a special exhibition this summer. Children will visit the new exhibition Diamonds in the Rough: Golfing at Hill-Stead and then they’ll get to put with “hickory sticks” like the ones that were used in the early 1900’s. They will also play croquet, lawn tennis, board games and other fun pastimes that children enjoyed when Hill‐Stead was home to the Pope family.

Experience Art!

Paintings, pastels, sculpture, prints and more adorn the walls at Hill‐Stead. Each day includes an exploration of the techniques and creativity needed to produce art in the style of Hill‐Stead’s collections. In addition to daily projects, each child will use oil pastels to create an Impressionist‐style work of art over the course of the week.



$200 members/ $250 nonmembers
An early drop‐off at 8:30 a.m. is available for an additional $10 per day.


WEEK #1 – Summer on the Hill (Ages 7 – 11)

July 23rd – July 27th
9:00 a.m. ‐ 12:00 noon

WEEK #2 ‐ Summer on the Hill (Ages 7 – 11)

July 30th – August 3rd
9:00 a.m. ‐ 12:00 noon

WEEK #3 – Summer on the Hill (Ages 7– 11)

August 6th – August 10th
9:00 a.m. ‐ 12:00 noon

Fresh Voices Poetry Competition Winners Announced

And the winners are….

  • Vanecia Fultz – Rockville High School
  • Rachel Justice – Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Sarah Lewis – Hall High School
  • Ellis McGinley – Arts at the Capitol Magnet School
  • Youssef Mezrioui – Rockville High School
  • Alex Nordlund – Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts

Thank you to our judges

Daniel Donaghy is a Professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University, where he has received the school’s Board of Regents Teaching Award and CSU Norton Mezvinsky Trustees Research Award. His poetry collections include Somerset (NYQ Books, 2018), Start with the Trouble (University of Arkansas Press, 2009), winner of the Paterson Award for Literary Excellence, and Streetfighting (BkMk Press, 2005), a Paterson Prize Finalist. He has received grants from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts as well as the Southern Humanities Review’s Theodore Christian Hoepfner Award. He grew up in Philadelphia, PA. Last year, he launched Here: a poetry journal, which he edits with his students.

Adriane Jefferson is an arts administrator who has worked in the performing arts sector and arts education for 15 years. She is currently an arts program manager and special programs coordinator for The Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts. Prior to that, she served as The Executive Director for The Writer’s Block Ink in New London, CT. In 2009 she received her B.A in Popular Music from Florida Memorial University. She went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration from Savannah College of Art and Design. Her career has been centrally focused on cultivating and developing talent within arts and entertainment. With her love for community engagement, Adriane has served as an arts consultant to artists, arts organizations, and arts-based after-school programs where she has helped them to design strategies to achieve their career and organizational goals.

Adriane used her background in performing arts and theatre to help structure the drama department at Alonzo Mourning Charities Over Town Youth Center and The Gibson Charter School. Earlier in her career, she worked as a talent agent on The Mike Sherman Show, a show that focused on the pop music industry and covered major music events such as The Billboard Music Awards and The BET awards. In 2005 Adriane created Rhyme Fest, a community event that used hip-hop as an advocacy tool for social change. Adriane is a long time affiliate of the Writers Block Ink. Outside of the role she played as Executive Director, she served as their Creative Director and Director of Programming from 2013-2015. She is now serving as a member of The Writer’s Block Ink Board of Directors. Adriane is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.