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Visit Hill-Stead!

Daily Tours

  • The 1901 Pope Riddle house and its period rooms are open for guided tours only.
  • Guided tours of the Pope Riddle House are offered Wednesday through Sunday, every hour on the hour from 10 am to 4 pm with the last tour at 3 pm;  closed major holidays (Easter Sunday, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day).
  • Tickets may be purchased at the museum on a first-come, first-serve basis; no more than 16 people per tour.
  • Hill-Stead also offers Exclusive Private Tours on select Saturdays.
  • Hill-Stead’s grounds are open to the public daily from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. for group of eight or more please contact Karen Hudkins to make an advance reservation. Dogs are welcome at Hill-Stead. Please note: They must wear a leash and stay under their owner’s control at all times.
  • To keep our Museum accessible to all, Hill-Stead Museum offers  AAA, Blue Star Museums, Museums for All, and Connecticut Art Trail Benefits.
  • Museum members are always free Not a member? Join now.
  • Hill-Stead welcomes groups of 10 or more with advance reservations. For more information, see Group Tours.
  • Hill-Stead now offers both in-person and online field trips.  BOOK NOW
  • Visitors will be required to lock their bags and personal belongings in the lockers located in the visitor center, or alternatively, to store them in their car during the visit/tour of the historic house and/or art gallery.
  • Please review our reopening plan


To keep our museum accessible to all, Hill-Stead participates in the Blue Star Museums, Museums for All, AAA and Connecticut Art Trail programs.

Museum Members are always free.  Not a Member?  JOIN NOW

Members  | FREE
Adults | $18
AAA & Seniors (62+) | $16
Students | $12
Children 6-12 | $10
Children under 6 | FREE

Museum Members are always FREE!
Not a Member?  JOIN NOW

Special Admission Programs

As a Blue Star Museum, Hill-Stead offers active-duty military families FREE admission from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and museums across America.

Hill-Stead is a part of the Museums for All program and offers FREE admission for up to four people to with the presentation of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Museums for All is a cooperative initiative between Association of Children’s Museums and Institute of Museum and Library Services to offer a program that encourages families of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits.

Hill-Stead is a member of the Connecticut Art Trail.  Discover Connecticut’s artistic treasures with the Connecticut Art Trail Art Passport. The $25 Art Passport includes one admission to each of the 20 member museums per year. Explore diverse, quality collections rich in history and heritage, including European masterpieces, American Impressionism, ancient art and contemporary culture.


The safety of staff and visitors is our highest priority.

To ensure a safe, inspiring experience for all, we’ve adopted new health and safety protocols. You’ll find everything you need to know about your next visit below.

Social distancing best practices are in place. All persons entering the building will be required to wear a face mask covering at all times.

  • Always wear a facemask and make sure it fits over your nose and mouth
  • Practice safe social distancing. Please keep six feet between yourself and others (outside your party)
  • Please wash/sanitize your hands at our sanitizing stations
  • A limited number of visitors will be permitted at one time
  • A one-way flow of traffic will be required in the House
  • Contactless payment is available and encouraged
  • Please let us know if you or another member of your party have traveled outside of Connecticut in the past 14 days or​ experiencing fever, chills, cough, or any other symptoms

Hill-Stead’s grounds

Director’s Message – April 19, 2024

Dear Friends,Extraordinary. It’s not something you see everyday.

I am overjoyed to share that we have teamed up with a devoted partner to bring you just that.

Last night, Bank of America announced 24 projects around the globe selected to be part their 2024 Art Conservation Project. It is a stellar list: Musée d’Orsay, National Gallery in London, the Guggenheim, Smithsonian, and…Hill-Stead, sandwiched between Rome’s Galleria Borghese and the Louvre!

The Louvre Pyramid, Paris. Photograph by Anders Bengtsson.

With the Bank’s support, in July we will host two titans of art conservation, David Bull and Teresa Longyear, who will treat three of our Impressionist masterpieces, Degas’s Dancers in Pink, Manet’s Toreadors and Monet’s Fishing Boats at Sea.

Fishing Boats at Sea, Claude Monet

They will set up shop in our bespoke glass room, named for our longtime supporter David Dangremond and his sons Sam and Gus. In this conservation “fishbowl” they shall – right before your eyes – remove 125+ years worth of dirt, grime and discoloration. And at the end, we will all have the chance to see these artworks anew, in their original vibrant states, as perhaps only the artists themselves did. Until now.

I imagine it will feel like having cataracts removed from your eyes. Do carve out a day between July 10th and 31st to come see for yourself.

The honor of being selected and the gratitude we feel for our inimitable partner is beyond what I can describe. However, I would like to highlight the singular and crucial role that Bank of America occupies here. As the successor bank entrusted with the funds Theodate left to care for Hill-Stead, it provides the one unbroken chain of this museum’s life, from 1947 to today. Supporting the hard, worthy work of preserving and sharing this wondrous place, they are a beacon of commitment, faithfulness, and devotion.

We are both humbled and elated!


Dr. Anna Swinbourne
Executive Director & CEO

P.S: if you are curious about the other 23 art projects, you can learn about them here.

Director’s Message – February 29, 2024

Dear Friends,A favorite art story is Marcel Duchamp‘s transformation of the Mona Lisa.In 1919, he took an image of Leonardo’s beloved lady and embellished it, adding a delicate beard and moustache and a new title – the letters L.H.O.O.Q. – underneath.

While the gender-bending facial hair is clever, it’s the lettering that is the stroke of genius. L.H.O.O.Q is gramogram. Pronounced in his native French these letters form a sentence, Elle a chaud au cul, which translates roughly to She has a hot ass. While millions had gazed upon this iconic face, who, pray tell, had ever contemplated her backside? And what, exactly, had Duchamp done through this modest yet shocking intervention? Made his viewer giggle, or gasp, or realize that there was more to Mona than her beguiling smile. Maybe he went deeper and helped one think about the nature of idolatry, and preciousness, and why we even look at art of the past in the first place. He plucked a 416-year-old painting from its distant Renaissance day and gave it a new satirical life in his own post World War I era, a time of devastation, shock, and profound questioning. He took something old and gave it present-day relevance.A favorite work in Hill-Stead’s collection is Edgar Degas’s The Tub. A young contemporary artist named Meredith Maher recently asked if she could use it to create her own artwork, converting the imagery into puzzle pieces from which to build her own version of a bather.Intrigued by her vision, we granted permission and are now delighted to share the results. Watch her video below, entitled The Muse. It is less than 2 minutes long, and worth every second of your time.

Great art has the power to do this – to inspire us to do something. It could be making your own artwork, or so much more. Take, for instance, one of today’s artistic It Girls, Hokusai’s The Great Wave, which could inspire you to… take rowing lessons, read Daniel James Brown’s book The Boys in the Boat, watch the new television series Shōgun, paint your bedroom that marvelous blue, breathe deeply and carry on when the storm comes… the possibilities are endless. And the only requirements are that you get your fanny in front of an artwork and open your mind and heart to what the artist has created.

After that, you are free to run, or, better, leap with it.


Dr. Anna Swinbourne
Executive Director & CEO

Director’s Message – January 18, 2024

Dear Friends,I recall like yesterday the first time my request to borrow a painting for an exhibition was denied. A young curator at MoMA, I marched down the long hallway to my boss’s office, letter in hand, plopped myself down in the Mies van der Rohe chair – without an appointment. (I had temporarily lost my mind.) I raved. How on earth could this be? This is MoMA. The show is a birthday party for the masterpiece that launched 20th century art, Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon. The owner was a descendant of the artist! I went on and on, practically undone, for as long and as far as words would take me. When I hit the end, I stopped, and pleaded silently with my eyes, please please explain this to me. The answer was brief and a sentence I will never forget: sometimes “no” means work harder.

That opinion has been rattling around in my head the entire time we’ve been organizing our present exhibition, Born in 1867: Theodate’s Generation. Researching these brave women, choosing which to feature in the show, selecting objects to tell their stories. All of them with enough strength to defy the “Nos” and move instead in the direction of their dreams, however inconceivable they were. “No” would not stop these women pioneers from accomplishing what they had set their hearts upon.

Every time I enter the gallery and listen to its soundtrack of music by the first American female symphony composer, Amy Beach, whose controlling husband only let her perform twice a year, I think of “work harder.” Or when I stare at Annie Nathan Meyer’s wall of shame – we chose a handful of her countless rejection letters received in response to her lifelong attempts to get her writings published, including one from the institution she founded, Barnard College! – I see “no” fanning her inner fire. And these are just two of the many examples on view, all standing by and ready to be appreciated.

Whether you like medicine or arts or money, we invite you to come and see for yourself. A recent visitor called the show “a voyage of discovery of incredible women” and another declared that “every young girl in Connecticut should see this!”

Consider spending one of these cold days here at Hill-Stead. Warm yourself. Spark your curiosity. Then leave a little bit different. Inspired to follow your own dream.

AnnaDr. Anna Swinbourne
Executive Director & CEO

P.S: for opening hours and exhibition details, please visit our website.

Director’s Message – September 22, 2023

Dear Friends,Happy. How I love those moments that can only be described by that word. Travel + Leisure named Hill-Stead the best small-town art museum in the country. To see in print what I’ve long believed as well as the 14 others behind number one Hill-Stead… made for a lot of happy!Autumn here at this small, mighty place is going to be wonderful. In addition to the breathtaking foliage coming soon are two new programs.Our fall exhibition, Born in 1867: Theodate’s Generation, opens in late October with a special event with award-winning author Deborah Goodrich Royce on October, 26 at 6 pm. The exhibition will showcase 20 women who share our founder’s birth year. Hailing from all parts of the country and all different fields, these women all refused to let societal norms dictate their lives. Instead, they designed their own paths and became pioneers of great accomplishment. From Laura Ingalls Wilder and Madame CJ Walker to Nellie Charlie and the unsinkable Molly Brown, they wove a tapestry of change to better our world. And together they present a smorgasbord of inspiration for anyone inclined to follow their dreams.

One ongoing dream we have is to connect contemporary artists with the museum’s extraordinary masterpieces and setting. So we’re thrilled to announce Hill-Stead’s First Annual Juried Members Exhibition, which we’ve titled Modern-Day Monet. Calling all artists inspired by nature and light, we invite you to submit a piece(s) from your outdoor scenery of choice, or visit the museum to work here. Hill-Stead offers a visual feast of gardens, meadows, sweeping vistas, trails, barns, sheep and brand-new haystacks.

When considering these new programs, I can’t help but think about a widespread misconception of Hill-Stead, namely that it’s a stuffy old historic house that you visit once. How very untrue! As recent years have shown, this museum uses its incredible assets and its imagination to create new, exciting reasons to visit. Hill-Stead is not a One and Done; it’s a beautiful place where you can learn, experience awe, and feel more alive.Please come and see for yourself.

Looking forward to welcoming you,

Dr. Anna Swinbourne
Executive Director & CEO

Giving Tuesday 2023

Giving Tuesday is a global movement which unleashes the power of radical generosity–a day that encourages hundreds of millions of people to collaborate in support of worthy causes.

For the second year in a row, this Giving Tuesday (November 28), the Hill-Stead Museum, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art are joining forces to collectively raise funds for our museums. With one click, you can support all three museums with a gift of any size, which will be split equally and acknowledged by all three museums.

The decision to collaborate, rather than compete with one another – rare in the world of fundraising – was highlighted in the Hartford Courant last year.  Subscribers can click here to read more about our newsworthy collaboration.

We would be so grateful if you would consider including the arts in your holiday giving this year. We know how difficult it can be to choose among the many worthy arts organizations in the region, but your gift today will help all three of us continue to provide world-class art to our communities throughout Connecticut.

Thank you for your support and wonderful generosity, which helps keep our museums alive and thriving!



Born in 1867: Theodate’s Generation

October 26, 2023 – March 31, 2024

About the Exhibition


The concept of “born in 1867” came from the nearly identical birthdates of Hill-Stead’s founder, Theodate Pope Riddle, and writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, February 2 and February 7 respectively. Born just five days apart, their life experiences could not have been more different—one was the privileged and doted-upon only child of a wealthy industrialist, who sought her own path against societal expectations, the other was the daughter and wife of frontier farmers, who had a life of almost constant economic struggle and yet embarked on a late-in-life career that gained her fame worldwide. Of the two, Laura is by far the more well-known. Both women, even as young girls, displayed determination and resilience in pursuing what they wanted to do. These qualities were prevalent among many women of this generation.

This exhibition provides a cross-disciplinary survey of 20+ American women who share the birth year of Hill-Stead’s architect, museum founder and benefactor, Theodate Pope Riddle. Through various objects, we represent women from various geographic sectors of the United States, multiple cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and a variety of professions and avocations, including the arts, medicine, literature, journalism, education, social welfare, and more. Lastly, Born in 1867: Theodate’s Generation, contextualizes the broader picture of the female demographic that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries not only overcame lingering Victorian views that frowned on women’s activities beyond school, church, and home but also found new roles and occupations for themselves in the fast-changing U.S. economy that emerged after the Civil War.

Hill-Stead will celebrate this exhibition opening with a very special evening featuring author Deborah Royce. On Thursday, October 26 she will discuss her latest book Reef Road: A Novel and her life as a present-day pioneering woman. The talk will take place in the museum’s historic Drawing Room, followed by a fundraising dinner with the author in the Glass Room. Learn more and get your tickets here.


The Women Featured

Laura Ingalls Wilder – writer, author of The Little House on the Prairie series
Annie Nathan Meyer – founder of Barnard College, writer
Madam C.J. Walker – entrepreneur
Lillian Wald – founder of the traveling nurse system and the Henry Street Settlement in NYC
Emily Greene Balch – winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
Caroline Pratt – educator, founder of the City and Country School in NYC
Margaret Tobin Brown (aka Unsinkable Molly Brown) – philanthropist, survivor of the sinking of the Titanic
Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead – first female licensed OBGYN in Connecticut
Catherine Montgomery – founder of the Pacific Trail
Ida Gray Nelson Rollins – first African-American woman dentist in the United States
Wrexie Louise Leonard – first female astronomer in the United States
Mary Chase Perry – entrepreneur, ceramicist
Alice Foote MacDougall – entrepreneur, first female coffeeshop owner and coffee distributer
Annie Fisher – entrepreneur and cook
Margaret Neilson Armstrong – writer, illustrator, botanist
Maud Powell – violinist, suffragist
Nellie Charlie – entrepreneur, weaver
Amy Beach – first American female composer
Emma Azalia Hackley – concert soprano, newspaper editor, teacher, and political activist
Cora Smith Eaton King – first licensed female doctor in North Dakota, suffragist


Entry to the exhibition is included in the general admission ticket to the historic house. Purchase tickets in the Museum Shop.

Members  | FREE
 | $18
AAA & Seniors (62+) | $16
Students | $12
Children 6-12 | $10
Children under 6 | FREE

Not a Member?  JOIN NOW


April 27 – June 30, 2024

About the Exhibition

Hill-Stead Museum is thrilled to announce its first Annual Juried Members Exhibition, which is intended to connect present day artists with the Museum’s natural beauty and collection masterworks. Calling all artists who are inspired by nature and light to submit their piece(s) to this juried show. Artists may work from the naturescape of their choice. They are warmly welcome to draw inspiration and/or work on site at Hill-Stead. Its 152 acres of rounds include gardens, meadows, trails, sweeping vistas and pastures filled with sheep and freshly-made haystacks.


Important Dates

  • September 22, 2023 – Submissions begin on CaFÉ
  • February 29, 2024 – Deadline for submissions on CaFÉ
  • March 27 – Notification on CaFÉ and hillstead.org
  • April 8 – Receiving of accepted works, 10 am-12pm, 4-6 pm at Hill-Stead
  • April 11 – Deadline for shipped artwork
  • April 27 – Exhibition Opening and Awards Ceremony, 4-6 pm at Hill-Stead
  • May 26 – Close of exhibition – EXTENDED UNTIL JUNE 30!

About the Juror

William O’Reilly has been in the art world for over 20 years. During his early career, William was part of the Old
Masters Department at Christie’s in London, where he worked with masterpieces of Western Art, by
artists like Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo. Later, William went on to become the head of
Impressionist and Modern Art at Bonhams Auctioneers in London, and subsequently in New York. In January 2018
William moved into the world of private dealing with Dickinson Gallery’s New York. In 2022 William
established his own private dealership, Argonaut Fine Art, which offers the full spectrum of fine art consulting
services. William has handled benefit auctions for organizations such as the United Nations Foundation, as
well as for local cultural, heritage and educational causes.

Selected Artists & Artworks


  • Mie Akatsu
  • Linda Andrei
  • Joyce Baldwin
  • Paul Baylock
  • Irina Bezsonova
  • Virginia Bilodeau
  • David Brewster
  • Helen Cantrell
  • Ellen Carey
  • Henry Cataldo
  • Leslie Civitello
  • Kay Clarke
  • Amy Conover
  • Violet Davenport
  • Robert Louis Del Russo
  • Vicki Dugger
  • Anne Eisner
  • Bobbie Emery
  • Kate Emery
  • Camilla Fallon
  • Terry Feder
  • Crystal French
  • Nancy Garceau
  • Eddie Hall
  • Robin Hammeal-Urban
  • Inness Hancock
  • Francie Brown Holmes
  • Philip Hooker
  • Karen Israel                             
  • John Johnson
  • Bill Junor
  • Charlene Kilcomons
  • Edith Skiba LaMonica
  • Lusmerlin Lantigua
  • Michele Lasker
  • Colleen McGuire
  • Donna Miller
  • Jeanette Mobeck
  • Eileen Mooney
  • Juan Moreno
  • Patricia Newsom
  • Rachael Norris
  • Christian Brechneff
  • Susan Prentice
  • Sarah Prentis-Brown
  • Susan Reeder Moss
  • Mariah Reisner
  • Tatiana Rhinevault
  • Diana Rogers
  • Jane Runyeon
  • Rachel Sclare
  • Lavell Thompson
  • Sarah Tigrett
  • Grier Torrence
  • Susan Turcotte
  • Jocelyn G Weeks
  • John Wheat
  • Eli Wilner
  • Thomas Zaccheo, M.D.
  • Richard Zita


  • First Prize – $750
  • Second Prize – $500
  • Third Prize – $250
  • Juror’s Award – $100
  • Theodate’s Choice – $100

Guidelines for Artwork

  • Up to three works per artist may be submitted.
  • All two-dimensional work must be framed and/or ready for installation with hanging hardware, wire, or d-rings already installed on work and the entire work must not exceed 60 inches in any dimension. The work cannot exceed 50 pounds. Pieces without hanging hardware will not be included in the exhibition.
  • Three-dimensional work cannot exceed 48 inches in any dimension and should be accompanied by a pedestal/or be ready for display as a freestanding or self-containing work. The work cannot exceed 100 lbs.
  • Hill-Stead Museum will not accept installations due to space constraints.
  • The Museum prohibits glitter, wet paint, sharp objects, open flames, balloons, spray (perfumes, hairsprays, etc.), dangerous chemicals, weapons, pressurized containers, plants or animals (alive or dead), hazardous materials (explosive, flammable, or perishable), decaying materials (mold or insect infestation), or anything deemed harmful to the Museum’s collection. If there are questions about this please contact Melanie Bourbeau, Senior Curator, at bourbeaum@hillstead.org or (860) 677-4787, ext. 122.

Important Information

ELIGIBILITY: National and International artists 18 years or older with current Hill-Stead Museum membership. Original works accepted in all media, executed during the past year.

ENTRY FEE: A $20.00 entry fee will be charged for the first piece submitted and $10.00 per piece after that up to a total of three total works submitted. Check, Visa, Discover, Mastercard, or American Express will be accepted through the CaFÉ website.

SUBMISSION: Hill-Stead Museum will only accept submissions through CaFÉ before the submission deadline of February 29, 2024. CaFÉ is an online application and jury management system for calls for entry. Visit www.callforentry.org and click on “Help” and follow their directions for submitting.

MEMBERSHIP: You must have a current Hill-Stead Museum Membership to be eligible to submit your work. If you are not a current member, the Museum reserves the right to remove your work from the jurying process with the loss of entry fees as a result. For membership information, please contact Megan Olver at olverm@hillstead.org or (860) 677-4787, ext. 181 or follow this link before accessing CaFÉ.

SELECTED WORKS: Selected works must be delivered ready to hang/display. Artworks considered unsuitable for hanging/presentation will be refused. Curatorial staff reserves the right to refuse an artwork that is misrepresented through documentation or is not the piece selected by the juror.

SHIPPED ARTWORK: The deadline for receipt of shipped artwork is April 11, 2024. If work is not at Hill-Stead by April 11, 2024, we reserve the right to not include it in the exhibition. Any artwork being shipped must include return postage/shipping fee that must be received before the end of the exhibition (May 26, 2024). In the case of inadequate or nonexistent return postage, works will be considered abandoned property and disposed of as the Hill-Stead sees fit. All artwork should be packaged in a manner that will allow for the materials to be re-used for return shipping. Otherwise please include materials for return packaging. Please do not ship artwork with packing peanuts.

LIABILITY: Hill-Stead Museum will not be responsible for any damage whatsoever, before, during, or after the exhibition. No works will be released without proper identification. Any work not picked up by the dates noted above will become property of the Museum and will be considered abandoned property and disposed of as Hill-Stead Museum sees fit.

SALES: We encourage the sale of artwork; however work does not have to be for sale if selected for the exhibition. Hill-Stead will not deduct a commission for any sale of work in the exhibition. Hill-Stead will not serve as a third party for sales; we will provide artist contact information to any individuals inquiring about purchases.

Director’s Message – July 25, 2023

Dear Friends,

Meet Kathanne and Elena, our brand new Hill-Stead haystacks. How they came into being is a fun story:Our partners from Clatter Ridge Farm, Bobbie and Anne, who own the sheep here asked “wouldn’t it be great if we used the hay right under our noses (from museum’s fields) to feed the animals, rather than buy and import it from elsewhere?”We replied “Yes! Sustainable. Environmentally friendly. And if Hill-Stead-made, certainly delicious.”Then a clever board member, Susan Chandler, mused further: “If you’re going to make hay, you also need a haystack.”We immediately saw the wisdom and brilliance of their collective ideas. After all, with two Monet haystack paintings in the museum, this would bridge past and present and honor our founders, who believed well-being is achieved by cultivating the life of the mind indoors and a direct relationship with nature. Perfect!

But how? None of us had ever done anything like this before. So we researched – interviewing farmers, watching videos on Youtube – wow did those Romanians make this look easy. Then we raised the money for the new equipment we needed. Then, we waited for the rain to stop, and waited, and waited, as one needs hot and dry to make hay.The stars just aligned, and over two separate sessions we made two stacks. Each night a mighty team of five – two farmers, two staff members and even a board president named Lavell – got to work.

Not only did the crazy experiment succeed, we created a whole new (old) world of possibilities. An educational program, a team building exercise (it was immensely satisfying to wield a pitch fork in the presence of my boss), and, a favorite of all, a new exhibition idea. We will make more stacks all over the property in the coming summer days and then an open call to artists. Come use the stacks and their surroundings to inspire your own art making, just as Monet did 130+ years ago. With these new masterpieces we will create a contemporary art show in our new gallery.As I shoveled hay last evening, I kept thinking of Ralph Waldo Emerson and his idea that to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. Why this thought? Because what we were doing was so very Hill-Stead, to its core, to its soul. This museum is not any old art place or historic house filled with stuff and surrounded by beauty. Hill-Stead is a rare and inimitable combination of art, nature and inspiring founders – a combination you simply cannot find anywhere else in this country.

Those of us who love Hill-Stead work hard to sustain and preserve it, and every day we hope that more and more people will come visit and be touched by its magic.See you soon?


Dr. Anna Swinbourne
Executive Director & CEO

Free Museum Admission for Kids Summer 2023!

CT Summer at the Museum is back!

From July 1 to September 4, Connecticut children ages 18 and younger, plus one accompanying adult, can visit Hill-Stead Museum for free as part of the Connecticut Summer at the Museum program.*

No advance registration is required. Please check-in at the Museum Shop when you arrive.

*Does not apply to ticketed events such as From the PorchVisual & Performing Arts STEAM Academy, or the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival.

With the support of Connecticut Humanities and the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the federal ARPA.

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