2020 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition Finalists

2020 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition

Thank you to all the high school students who participated in Hill-Stead Museum’s Fresh Voices Poetry competition and the teachers and parents who supported them. Poetry has the power to heal and bring comfort, particularly during these trying times.

United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo attests to this statement: “Poetry tends to hang out at points of transformation…when a death happens in the family, or some other grief event, or marriage, or falling in love, or falling out of love, birth—people always turn to poetry.”

Hill-Stead is thrilled to announce the 2020 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition Finalists, congratulations to:
  • Haneen Alkabasi, Avon High School
  • Alicia Chiu, William H. Hall High School
  • Jake Colangelo, Joel Barlow High School
  • Holden Escabi, Wethersfield High School
  • Ashton Hamre, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Hannah Kim, Glastonbury High School
  • Rose Kitz, William H. Hall High School
  • Alexandra Melo, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Maggie Munday Odom, The Grove School
  • Olatunji Osho-Williams, Westminster School
  • Connie Pan, Lyme-Old Lyme High School
  • Sophia Ramirez, Wilton High School
  • Melanie Trotochaud, Marine Science Magnet High School
  • Cindy Troung, Educational Center for the Arts
  • Charlotte Watts, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts
  • Lauren Young, Trinity Catholic High School

Hill-Stead Museum would like to thank this year’s Fresh Voices judges, David Caldwell, David K. Leff, and Amy Nawrocki.  The judges are currently reviewing the poems by the finalists. Fresh Voices readers, Kate Doemland of Miss Porter’s School, and Jamie Perry of Avon Old Farms School thoughtfully recommended the sixteen finalists from nearly 50 poetry submissions.

Covid-19 Update

Our first priority is the health and safety of our visitors, staff, volunteers, and neighbors.

Beginning June 20, public access to the property will return to its regular hours: gates and grounds will be open from 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

The museum will be open for private tours by appointment only. To make an appointment, please email maynardh@hillstead.org.

We enthusiastically invite you to attend From the Porch, Hill-Stead’s inaugural multicultural outdoor performing arts series, featuring music, dance, theater, and more. The diverse showcase kicks off on June 20 with a venerable celebration of the Year of the Woman, amplifying women’s crucial role in history during the centennial of women’s suffrage. The experiential events will happen several nights per week and be open to audiences of all ages.

For a schedule of events and information on buying tickets, visit From the Porch. We hope you will join us!

By linking our hands and sharing our resources, we can together create a dynamic and sustainable future.

Budding Photographers Photo Contest Winners

We are delighted to announce the winners of Hill-Stead Museum’s Budding Photographers Contest

We hope you enjoyed participating in this fun-filled contest while experiencing Hill-Stead’s glorious grounds this spring. Thanks, too, for those who voted on the competition and helped Hill-Stead exceed its goal, raising $2,825. Please stay tuned for news about our upcoming summer photo contest.

Congratulations to our winners in the following categories:


Winner  Joyce B. | From a Distance
Runner-up  Donna W. | The Colors of Spring
Second Runner-up  Azeem S.  | The Grandeur

Landscapes & Horizons

Winner  Gabriella R. | A Hint of Spring
Runner-up  David C. | Croquet Sunset
Second Runner-up  Kate E. | Rainbow

Living Things

Winner Donna H. | At the Pond
Runner-up Maddie M.| Lambs at the Hill-Stead Museum
Second Runner-up Gary A. | Grazing Sheep & Lamb

Each of the first-place winners will receive a 9×12 print of their winning photo and a gift certificate worth up to $75 from Farmington Frame. All of the winners will receive a Hill-Stead Museum membership along with a $20 gift certificate to Hill-Stead’s shop.

Three Things to Know – May 12, 2020

Dear Friends,

In the spirit of our tech-driven times, I am delighted to bring you a monthly update dedicated to “Hill-Stead Museum’s Three Things to Know,” from me, our new director of communications and marketing.

1. Extra, Extra! I am thrilled to share the first of many great stories about how our cultural destination is innovating during the pandemic on NBC News. I gave NBC’s digital producer an exclusive interview with Hill-Stead’s Executive Director Anna Swinbourne as well as resident shepherdess Bobbie Emery for the announcement of our interactive Virtual Sheep Experiences.

Bobbie Emery and her business partner Anne Foss are the owners of Clatter Ridge Farm. And, it is their Shetland sheep that graze on Hill-Stead’s historic grounds. This spring, we welcomed nearly 30 lambs, and they are now ready to visit you via Zoom! The sweet farm animals are available for work happy hours, corporate conference calls, school field trips, or family get-togethers. All offerings ranging from $25-$250 can be gifted, too, for a memorable and meaningful surprise. Please visit our website to book your sheep experience today!

2. Speaking of sheep, we are pleased to announce the winning bidder of fine artist Kate Emery’s original oil painting, After the Storm. Kate is Bobbie’s sister, and her impressive work depicts the historic barns at Hill-Stead and the flock of sheep that visitors experience at our 152-acre property. During their childhood, the two sisters, along with their three siblings, spent many happy occasions at Hill-Stead. They recall skating on the pond, sledding on the hill, and even enjoying camping trips on the grounds. The Emery sisters are generous supporters of the Hill-Stead Museum, and together, they have found creative ways to support the cultural destination. Held in March 2020, 75 percent of the proceeds from the Emery art auction directly benefited Hill-Stead.

“I want my work to make a difference,” says Kate, a second-career painter. She is also the founder of reSET, a Hartford-based non-profit that seeks to advance the state’s social enterprise sector.

Farmington native, Alden Warner III, purchased the painting for $1250. It was a nod to his childhood friend, Kate, the picturesque village where he spent his formative years and Hill-Stead Museum. Mr. Warner, a third-generation Farmingtonian, says: “It was a chance to buy a lovely painting by my old friend. And, it was a chance to honor Hill-Stead, the last magical landmark that has endured while so much around it has changed.”

3. Last but certainly not least, thank you for being a friend! Hill-Stead was overwhelmed by the generosity of our growing group of supporters. We participated in a full-fledged campaign for Giving Tuesday Now, a new global giving initiative on May 5, 2020. Our weeklong program included authentic content along with beautiful donor quotes, shared via e-blasts, and our various social media platforms to engage our audience. Among the creative posts were a beautiful graphic by educator Rachel Cutler, a chalk drawing by Anna’s daughter, and a “Thank You” photo captured by a drone over the House. We are immensely grateful for all of your contributions as well as our partner Liberty Bank who offered a challenge to match this goal. Every gift sustains us into the future.

I am eager to hear from you. Your questions, ideas, and inspirations are welcome. Leave a comment on a post relevant to the topic or email brettb@hillstead.org.

I will strive to respond to questions as soon as possible, generally within 24 hours.

Best wishes,

Beth Brett

Giving Tuesday Now

“We have been gifted with a phenomenal and irreplaceable treasure. We are Hill-Stead’s stewards, responsible for assuring that others will continue to be able to enjoy the Hill-Stead Museum’s unique offerings. How can we not respond to securing its future?”

—Nina Mayhall Hayes

Everyone wins when you support Hill-Stead Museum. During these trying times, art can keep us together. Throughout these turbulent times, our gorgeous 152-acre property has remained open every day, providing a place of refuge for all.

At this moment, Hill-Stead has extended its hands further–offering meaningful creative outlets–to uplift the spirit. And, we have engaged our performing arts partners by offering up the glorious property as a potential venue for outdoor performances–all with the goal of bringing more cultural opportunities to our collective community.

On May 5, 2020, Hill-Stead will join with thousands of non-profits to participate in Giving Tuesday Now, an international day of charitable giving to support non-profit organizations which have been impacted by the loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our goal for this special day of giving is $7,500. Liberty Bank has generously partnered with Hill-Stead and offered a challenge to match this goal. We are grateful for Liberty Bank’s matching gift and yours, which will provide us with the ability to sustain us into the future.

“We are immensely grateful to Liberty Bank, who not only partnered with us on Giving Tuesday Now but helped us with a PPP loan during these trying times,” says Anna Swinbourne, Hill-Stead Museum’s CEO & Executive Director. “I was incredibly impressed with the exemplary service we received from Joseph Raycraft, Liberty Bank’s Vice President, Senior Commercial Relationship Manager.”

Help us reach the goal! Every gift will make an impact! And there’s no need to wait until May 5, make your gift today!


If you have difficulty connecting, feel free to call Hill-Stead staff at 860-402-4798.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram throughout the day for progress updates

About Liberty Bank

Established in 1825, Liberty Bank is Connecticut’s oldest bank, with over $6 billion in assets and 60 banking offices throughout the central, eastern, western and shoreline areas of the state. As a full-service financial institution, Liberty offers consumer and commercial banking, home mortgages, insurance, and investment services. Named ‘Top Workplace’ by the Hartford Courant for eight consecutive years, Liberty maintains a longstanding commitment to superior personal service and unparalleled community involvement.

About Giving Tuesday Now

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world, taking place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. #GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 – in addition to the regularly scheduled Dec 1, 2020 #GivingTuesday – as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

April 15, 2020

Dear Friends,

The spirit of spring gives rise to resilience. Hill-Stead Museum bears witness to nature’s remarkable transformation from the birth of lambs in our fields to forsythia’s fiery light and magnolia buds bursting into springtime snowballs.

While the world retreats into quarantine, Hill-Stead is experiencing a moment. With it, we are embracing an unchangeable truth about being human: with a past that is behind us, and a future uncertain, what we do have is the present. In this present—a world filled with constraints of what we cannot, or should not, do—we present a possibility: visit Hill-Stead, to experience and marvel anew at nature’s miraculous power to create; and please do continue to share with us the stories of your visits!

With trees blooming and faith traditions celebrating hope and rebirth, Hill-Stead Museum is itself on a path to reach new heights. We have responded to the chaos of the times with creative energy, igniting the imagination through groundbreaking new programs outside the walls of the museum. Through it all, we have honored our commitment, keeping our gorgeous grounds open for all—an oasis in a turbulent time.


And we are determined to carry on with a dynamic, transformative journey we had begun before the present swerve began. It is with eyes to those exciting plans that I am so pleased to announce an important investment, namely a new appointment to our small but mighty team. Beth Brett officially joins us as our Director of Communications and Marketing, having spent her formative years as a lead publicist for the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. A graduate of Princeton University, Beth has spent the majority of her career in the world of arts and culture. With a master’s degree from Stanford’s Journalism School, Beth has bylined articles for The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and ESPN the Magazine. Most recently, the March 8th edition of the Hartford Courant published her op-ed piece about choosing to move to Connecticut. In it, she writes, “Having worked at the J. Paul Getty Museum for eight years, I am now smitten with the Hill-Stead Museum’s impressive collections and
gardens…” Please read more about her appointment here.

Book-ended by my tenure at MoMA in New York and Beth’s at the Getty in Los Angeles, we are arts impactors collaborating on both the challenges and opportunities ahead. Together with the team, we possess the passion, expertise, creativity, and courage necessary to enhance and elevate the museum in innovative ways. Our treasured National Historic Landmark deserves the very best leadership to take it to the next level as the institution prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary. I am thrilled that Beth will join me to champion Hill-Stead, and together, we look forward to sharing many exciting announcements in the coming months.

Wishing you well,

Dr. Anna Swinbourne, Executive Director & CEO

Hill-Stead Museum Announces New Communications and Marketing Director

Seasoned Communications Strategist Beth Brett Brings Extensive Getty Museum Experience to Farmington

Dr. Anna Swinbourne, Executive Director & CEO of Hill-Stead Museum, announced today the appointment of Beth Brett to the position of Director of Communications and Marketing. Mrs. Brett will join the Museum effective immediately.

In her new role, Mrs. Brett will meet the strategic goals of the storied institution as it enters its exciting next chapter by managing Hill-Stead’s brand, sharing its initiatives, and connecting it to the greater community through meaningful and authentic communications. Her appointment is particularly timely as the National Historic Landmark expands its audiences in the coming years through a major renovation project, resulting in new temporary exhibition space and expanded programming.

From 2004-2011, Mrs. Brett was a lead publicist for The J. Paul Getty Trust, where she forged strategic partnerships and managed public relations for every major program at the world-renowned arts institution. She went on to serve as Communications Director for Los Angeles Tourism, where she oversaw signature programs such as Discover the Arts and dineLA. Since 2012, Mrs. Brett has operated her arts and lifestyle agency with clients including Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Pacific Design Center, Barnsdall Art Park, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, L.A.’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A graduate of Princeton University, Beth began her career in the arts and cultural division of entertainment agency Serino Coyne, where she worked on creative campaigns for live entertainment brands. With a master’s degree from Stanford’s Journalism School, Beth has bylined articles for The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and ESPN the Magazine.

Most recently, she penned an op-ed piece for March 8th edition of The Hartford Chronicle wherein she writes “Having worked at the J. Paul Getty Museum for eight years, I am now smitten with the Hill-Stead Museum’s impressive collections and gardens…”  Dr. Swinbourne commented: “We are delighted to welcome Beth Brett as the Museum’s new Director of Communications and Marketing. As we embrace a dynamic phase when Hill-Stead closes in on its 75th anniversary and the site embarks on a transformative journey, Beth brings the expertise, creativity, and risk-taking necessary to take the visibility of this vital institution to the next level. All of us look forward to welcoming her to the executive team and working closely with her on the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Beth Brett stated, “It is a great privilege to join the executive team of Hill-Stead to champion this cultural center in the heart of the Farmington Valley, especially during its 75th-anniversary celebration and beyond.”

March 27, 2020

Dear Friends,

Collective creativity is born from moments like this. The arts have the power to heal. And making art is good for your health! Now more than ever, art is a critical vehicle for staying healthy and connected with the greater community. At Hill-Stead Museum, we are thrilled to offer meaningful creative outlets to uplift the spirit during this unprecedented moment in time.

Speaking of history, have you ever wondered about the birth of photography? In a tale of two cities, Frenchman Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, and Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot simultaneously announced the first practical photographic processes in 1839. It is fitting that Daguerre, an artist, and Talbot, a scientist, and inventor, would be the fathers of photography. Together, art and science—oft sketched as opposites—are two chapters in the same book. When photography was first developed, the people behind the camera captured the world as they saw it such as our own founder and architect, Theodate Pope Riddle, who experimented with photography, including this image of her swing. No other artistic medium has drawn on such rapid scientific innovation. Now, with the advent of Smartphones, photography is rapidly becoming the first art form where everyone engages.

Today, during this time of uncertainty and social distancing, art can keep us together. Photography continues to serve as a communications vehicle that influences, inspires, and ignites change. Bring your cameras the next time you enjoy the beautiful grounds of Hill-Stead. We invite you to participate in our fun-filled Budding Photographers contest, including three robust categories to spur creativity: Architecture, Landscapes and Horizons, and Living Things. Flock to the sheep or frolic in our meadows as the grounds come alive with spring’s first blooms.

For the intensely curious, armchair adventurers, students, architecture buffs, and historians, we are delighted to offer an extraordinary virtual tour. For the jet setters among us, the experience will be especially timely, allowing us to keep our spirits high during the current travel ban. So, come along with us on a thrilling trip with Theodate during her Grand Tour (1888-1889), a ten-month educational sojourn across Europe in search of arts and culture via her diary entries. Thanks to archival photography, check out the making of the Eiffel Tower as Theodate experienced it during her first tour stop in Paris. Each week we will reveal excerpts from her journal alongside enriching online cultural programming. It’s the ultimate trip across Europe!

Whether you can stop by Hill-Stead Museum or browse the rich content on our Museum’s website, an art adventure awaits all who embrace it! You might even discover sweet coloring scrolls left behind by leprechauns and perfect for kids of all ages.

Best Wishes,

Dr. Anna Swinbourne, Executive Director & CEO