Spotlight Winter 2020-2021


Given the closing of museums and historical societies last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic please confirm program dates by visiting the museum's or historical society's website listed with each announcement.

(c) Connecticut Explored Inc.  Winter 2020-2021

Subscribe/Buy the Issue!

Truths of Human Migration

Migration Now is a portfolio of 37 silkscreen and letterpress prints by various artists on view through January 24, 2021 at Pequot Library in Southport. The exhibition, co-organized by Favianna Rodriguez and Roger Peet, illustrates the power of art to engage people in informed conversation about immigration. Migration Now takes on the impacts that policy, policing, fear-mongering, and false narratives have had on immigrant populations. 

“When it comes to migration,” Rodriguez and Peet note, “the discourse rarely focuses on the stories of real people trying to succeed; instead, the frame is dominated by criminality and punishment. We believe that when we share our images and tell our stories, we illustrate the human struggle and win over broad audiences.” The exhibition also focuses on the local historical effects of borders and migration, specifically as they pertain to the impacts of colonization of indigenous lands, the consequences of which are still prevalent today.

Pequot Library, 720 Pequot Avenue, Southport.; 203-259-0346

(c) Florence Griswold Museum

Expand Your Horizons

The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company’s gift of their 190-piece art collection to the Florence Griswold Museum in 2001 marked an unprecedented milestone in the museum’s history. For Expanding Horizons: Celebrating 20 Years of the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection, on view through May 23, 2021, 20 leading art historians re-examine works in the collection through the lenses of environmental art history, material culture, landscape studies, and issues of identity such as gender and race. Alan C. Braddock, Professor of Art History and American Studies at William & Mary, for example, analyzes Walter Griffin’s c. 1897 Portrait of a Lady (above) to demonstrate how women’s fashions of the period were linked to destructive hunting practices and the decimation of the avian population, which awakened interest in the burgeoning animal-protection movement.  

The museum’s Magic of Christmas celebrates the joy of the winter season November 27, 2020 through January 3, 2021 with inspiring decorations, including three Fantasy Trees and four Miss Florence's Artist Trees filled with more than 200 paintings by artists from across the country. 

Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme. 860-434-5542;

Explore Children’s Role in History

Children have played a role in every aspect of life in the past and in the present. Children of the Elm City, a special exhibition on view through winter 2021 at the New Haven Museum, asks visitors and viewers to contemplate issues of childhood, family, and society as they view pictures of children from New Haven’s past, such as twins Benjamin Lott Lambert and Jennie Lambert, c. 1865 (above). Visitors will consider the context of family, education, community, and technology through multiple generations in differing social and economic circumstances. 

Children of the Elm City includes more than 50 images of New Haven’s youngest residents from 200 years of New Haven history, and the exhibition poses questions regarding the intent and purpose of the portraits. View first-person accounts written by two of the children whose images are on view and compare their words to the artist’s interpretation. The exhibition allows visitors to bring their own life experiences to their understanding of these historic childhood images.

New Haven Museum, 114 Whitney Avenue, New Haven.; 203-562-4183


Freedom, 1863 – 2020 ... Are We There Yet?

Freedom & Fragility, a special exhibition on view at The Amistad Center for Art & Culture through January 2021, explores the promise of “Freedom” for all. Though a cornerstone of American values, freedom remains largely fraught to this day. While the Union’s victory over the Confederacy would secure the ratification of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States, African Americans continued to face recurring challenges aimed at preserving the former racial hierarchy.

Resiliency would characterize the struggle of the African diaspora who survived the middle passage and earned their freedom in the United States of America. In the works of artists Philipe Halsman (above), Hale Woodruff, Faith Ringgold, and Sheila Pree Bright is an enduring spirit that portrays the challenges and risks African Americans face in exercising their rights.

Despite new liberties given to the formerly enslaved and their descendants, the notion of freedom in America is fragile, as continued struggles toward equity define the Black experience.

The Amistad Center for Art & Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main Street, Hartford.; 860-838-4089


Traditional Arts at CHS

The Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program at the Connecticut Historical Society announces the participants in the 23rd year of the Southern New England Apprenticeship Program in traditional arts (SNEAP). The program provides funding for skilled mentor artists to teach student apprentices over a 10-month period. Traditional arts reflect shared values, meaning, and artistic sensibilities, and sustaining these cultural expressions is important work with and for communities. For highlights from previous years, visit 

The 2020-2021 Mentor-Apprentice Teams are:Jason Roseman (RI), Afro-Trinidadian steelpan; apprentice: Jamara Codrington (MA) 
Daniel Foster (MA), Irish fiddle; apprentice: Carol Colvin (CT)
Debra Cowan (MA), English ballads and story songs; apprentice: Cate Clifford (RI)
Patrick Hutchinson (RI), Uilleann pipes; apprentice: Eva Meier (MA)
Adam Romo (CT), Mariachi music; apprentice: Antonio Alvarado (CT) 
Walter D. Sweet (CT), Wooden flute-making; apprentice: Michael Vidal (CT) 
Mary King (RI), Celtic harp; apprentice: Ellen Sheil (MA)

Connecticut Historical Society, 1 Elizabeth Street, Hartford.; 860-236-5621

(c) Todd McLellan

Inner Workings on View

Take a closer look at the objects that surround you each day; there is so much more than meets the eye! Through extraordinary photographs, disassembled objects, and fascinating videos, Things Come Apart reveals the inner workings of common, everyday possessions. This exhibition, on view through February 7, 2021 at Lyman Allyn Art Museum, presents more than 40 images of dozens of objects that explore how things are designed and made and how technology has evolved over time. Featured in the exhibition is photographer Todd McLellan’s uniquely beautiful approach to documenting the technological methods of modern mass production—in reverse. His images highlight the contrast between old-world craftsmanship and sleek modern engineering. This exhibition is a must-see for photography fans, tinkerers, and STEAM learners! Things Come Apart is organized by Todd McLellan and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 625 Williams Street, New London. 860-443-2545;

Look Again

The dramatic New Haven Savings Bank, depicted here, is awesome in its scale. Yet linger with it longer and its windows and cutouts will form patterns within its apparent severity. To encounter more Modernist buildings from the 1970s in New Haven, take a new self-guided tour via the website of the New Haven Preservation Trust.

Visit and explore.

Women’s Suffrage in Wilton

On November 1, 1920 Hannah Raymond Ambler proudly wrote in her journal, “It is my first vote.” This triumphant and poignant phrase, which Ambler underlined for emphasis, captures the voice of just one of the women in Wilton who sought suffrage. Grace Knight Schenck, a force to be reckoned with, was a leader who organized the first suffrage meeting in town. The stories of these two women are at the heart of an on-line exhibition featuring objects, historic costumes, vignettes, and music that places Wilton’s story in state and national context. Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck and the Vote will be available indefinitely at

Wilton Historical Society, 224 Danbury Road/Rt. 7, Wilton. 203-762-7257;

Slater Museum Reopens

Art is communication. In every culture and every form, art’s purpose is to communicate between artist and consumer. Made more challenging in a time of social distancing, communicating content is nevertheless the principal purpose of an art museum. The Slater Museum is thrilled to announce that it has reopened with new health and safety protocols and physical changes in place. The museum’s much anticipated Asian Gallery, originally scheduled to open last March, is now available for visitation, with every object communicating a message.

While the museum was closed, the staff reinstalled several galleries and continued key museum projects, including improving interpretive labels, offering visitors new and expanded experiences, particularly in the all-new Asian Gallery and much-loved African Gallery.  

Slater Memorial Museum, 108 Crescent Street, Norwich. 860-887-2506;

We Love Historic Barns

John Gilbert’s photo, “My Wednesday Find,” received the Viewers’ Choice award in Preservation Connecticut’s photography contest, “Picturing History: Historic Barns of Connecticut.” From 112 submissions, “My Wednesday Find” joins 39 other photos selected by a professional for a traveling exhibition appearing at several locations statewide during the coming year.

In addition, bring your love of barns into your home throughout the year with Preservation CT’s Historic Barns of Connecticut 2021 calendar, featuring photographs from the contest and exhibition!

Or, get out and about to see your favorite barns. Preservation CT is updating its Barn Trail Map, which will be available soon! Created as part of Preservation Connecticut’s survey of historic barns, the map offers a field guide to historic barns and steers visitors to 50 barns that are open to the public. To follow the exhibition, order a calendar or a map, or find historic barns around Connecticut, visit and

The Capital in Pictures

Pablo Delano’s Hartford Seen is the first modern-day art photography book to focus on Connecticut’s capital city. Comprising more than 150 full-color images, it is a personal meditation on the city’s built environment, using color and meticulous compositions to evoke the city’s essence. Available now from Wesleyan University Press at


Membership in the Association for the Study of Connecticut History (ASCH) includes a subscription to the Connecticut History Review, published twice annually. The Review is the only academic, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the history of Connecticut. For more information visit

Much to See in Lebanon

Made in Lebanon, the newest exhibition at the Lebanon Historical Society Museum, and other gallery exhibits are open for visitors! The museum’s staff and volunteers are looking forward to welcoming you. Museum hours are Wednesday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m. Occupancy is limited in compliance with state guidelines; calling in advance to reserve a time will assure that you don’t need to wait. Mask wearing is required, and someone will check your temperature as you enter.

In addition to Made in Lebanon, which features 300 years of objects made by Lebanon residents, visitors may tour History of Lebanon, Explore Revolutionary Lebanon, and Water Works–How Water Has Impacted Life in Lebanon. The museum’s historic buildings (the 1869 Pastor’s Library, c. 1790 Beaumont House, and c. 1760-1780 Jonathan Trumbull Jr. House) will reopen for tours in 2021. Video tours of the historic buildings are available on the museum’s website.

Lebanon Historical Society Museum, 856 Trumbull Highway, Lebanon. 860-642-6579;

Sharing Our Stories Online

We share our stories in many ways, and the collections in the Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library reflect this variety of communication formats. Examples now available 24/7 in the online Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA) include The Connecticut Women Suffrage Association Bulletins, 1918-1920, which were written to educate women in basic U.S. civics and the mechanics of voting as a way to ensure that once women had the right to vote, they knew how to exercise that right. Also available on CTDA are Hartford community activist Butch Lewis’s tapes from the Civil Rights era; the Hartford NAACP oral history collection relaying the experiences of NAACP presidents in the mid- to late-20th century; the Hartford HipHop collection that documents the early HipHop movement in Hartford through Peace Train’s activities producing concerts in Hartford parks and housing projects; and the art of Elbert Weinberg, which spoke to us of myth and madness, World War II and the Cold War. Visit to explore all of Hartford Public Library’s online collections.

The Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library, 500 Main Street, Hartford. 860-695-6297;

Art Made by Sailors

Mystic Seaport Museum took a deep dive into its collection for the new exhibition Sailor Made: Folk Art of the Sea. Featuring more than 200 objects from the museum’s collection, many of which have long been hidden from public view, the show explores the art that emerged out of the working world of the seaman, reflecting sailors’ connections to shipboard life, their thoughts about culture on shore, and the souvenirs they created to remember and share the experiences of their travels.

“When stuck in the difficult, dangerous, and sometimes monotonous environment of the ship, sailors used art to express themselves,” said Mirelle Luecke, Ph.D., the exhibition curator. “The designs they inscribed on scrimshaw, the types of household items they made, and the ways they used different materials were all intentions, and tell us something about the sailors themselves, their experiences, and the world they lived in.” Sailor Made is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Mystic Seaport Museum, 75 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic.; 860-572-0711


History on the Thames

Operating at diminished capacity for the 2020 season due to COVID-19 protocols, the Thames River Heritage Park (TRHP) nonetheless saw robust ridership on its historic boat tours. In fact, many of the tours sold out. For the first time, the park introduced historic walking tours,  and it added a new tour celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage called “Suffragettes, Puppeteers and Patriots. Women of the Thames.” In 2021 the park will add another route to the TRHP experience with the installation of a new dock at the Submarine Force Museum & Library/USS Nautilus. The new route will include narration about the area and its history and will connect with the existing three-stop hop-on, hop-off loop. TRHP boats are navy utility or “liberty” boats used for bringing sailors to shore for free time.

Thames River Heritage Park, New London and Groton.

Take a Virtual Tour this Winter

While Connecticut Landmarks’s historic properties are closed for the winter, CTL is still bringing history to you! Invite friends, club members, or colleagues to a private virtual lecture or tour from the comfort of your own homes. Explore the history of the written word with “The Books of Bellamy-Ferriday.” You’ll learn how the Bellamy-Ferriday House and its philanthropic inhabitants inspired various writers, from Edward Bellamy to Martha Hall Kelly. Or, peek “Behind the Hedge at Bellamy-Ferriday” to discover virtually the evolution of the house’s garden from open field to walled beauty. Learn tips about garden stewardship and preservation, too. You can virtually visit historic Hartford through a number of customizable programs, including a landscape tour, “From the Ground Up,” through the changing spaces surrounding the Butler-McCook House. The “Discovering Hartford” tour takes you from the Butler-McCook House & Garden to the G. Fox Building to explore Main Street’s significant structures and artworks. For more information visit 

Thomas Cole. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

CT Art Trail at 25

Made in Connecticut: Celebrating 25 Years of the CT Art Trail is on view through February 27, 2021 at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Works of art and objects from the collections of each of the 22 CT Art Trail member institutions are on view to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the trail. Included is Thomas Cole’s 1828 View of Monte Video, the Seat of Daniel Wadsworth, Esq. (above) from the Wadsworth’s collection. Curated by artist James Prosek, Made in Connecticut includes paintings, drawings, prints, and other works of art alongside a number of decorative and industrial art objects including a rubber desk and early typewriter.

Also on view is at the Wadsworth is Savor: A Revolution in Food Culture through January 3, 2021. Rare objects reveal fascinating stories about 18th-century changes to food culture that resonate to this day. And Ali Banisadr / MATRIX 185, on view through February 14, 2021, features new paintings in the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. alongside selected works from the Wadsworth’s collection. Visit for hours and admission.

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main Street, Hartford.; 860-278-2670

Connecticut Postcard Collection 

The Museum of Connecticut History’s postcard collection includes more than 1,100 views of Connecticut mills and factories spanning nearly a century—from the early 20th century to 2003.  

These postcards capture the origins of the state’s industrial base through images of small, wooden, water-powered mills, many of which still existed in the early 1900s. Some of the postcards are black-and-white photographs, others are in color. Most of the cards were sent by mill or factory workers to show others where they worked. Many capture rural, somewhat bucolic settings. Others follow the development of mills through images of multi-story brick and stone factories powered by steam and leather belting, to mid-20th century, single-story, suburban factories run by electricity. The factory view postcard collection is available online at

Connecticut State Library, 231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford.; 860-757-6500

Women, Art, Activism

Marking the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America, the New Britain Museum of American Art presents Some Day is Now: Women, Art & Social Change, on view through January 24, 2021. Some Day is Now is a celebration of iconic American female artists whose work advocates for social empowerment and change. Featuring more than 20 artists, including Yoko Ono, Jenny Holzer, and the Guerrilla Girls, and installed alongside historic ephemera from the women’s suffrage movement, Some Day is Now examines the work of artists who combine language, text, and image to express hope, enact change, raise awareness, and give voice to their beliefs. Some Day is Now is presented as a part of the museum’s 2020/20+ Women @ NBMAA initiative, a year-long series of exhibitions devoted exclusively to women artists.

New Britain Museum of American Art, 56 Lexington Street, New Britain.;  860-229-0257

Beautiful Wedding Setting

Roseland Cottage in Woodstock offers a unique and beautiful setting for weddings and private parties. From May through October the grounds and perennial gardens are lovely for events held outside or in the Carriage House. For more information contact

Roseland Cottage, 556 Route 169, Woodstock.; 860-928-4074

Host Your Family Gathering

Looking for a quaint (and safe) place to host the family this holiday season? Come to Noah’s house! The Noah Webster House’s gallery space is perfect for a group of 25 people with plenty of room for social distancing. Bonus: you can use the adjoining reproduction 18th-century kitchen, complete with a roaring fire! Learn more at

Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, 227 South Main Street, West Hartford. 860-521-5362;

Educating Young Preservationists

Connecticut Explored is the appreciative recipient of state support for public-education activities about historic preservation through a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office in the Department of Economic and Community Development. The “Site Lines” feature in each issue and the Spring 2020 issue were supported by these funds. Featured stories show the impact of historic preservation in communities across our state.

Connecticut Explored also received support for the creation of 10 Learning Through Places lesson plans for third and fourth graders using Where I Live: Connecticut. The lesson plans feature places listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are designed to inform and strengthen students’ connections to their neighborhood, town, and state and to raise student awareness of the built environment as a first step toward understanding the importance of historic preservation. The free lesson plans are available at SHPO grant funds come from the Community Investment Act of the State of Connecticut.

(c) Greenwich Historical Society

Japanese Culture Explored in Greenwich

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently featured Greenwich Historical Society, a member of its Historic Artists Homes and Studios Program, in a story on its website. The story focused on Genjiro Yeto (above), a Japanese artist who in the late 19th century became a regular visitor to the Bush-Holley House and the Cos Cob Art Colony. GHS curator Maggie Dimock explained that Yeto came to the U.S. “intending to study western-style painting, but eventually found success chiefly as a watercolor artist of traditional ‘Japanese’ subjects, including florals and genre scenes, which were popular among American buyers.” He was also an illustrator, and the museum’s archives include several first editions of books he illustrated. Visitors to the museum’s galleries may view examples of Yeto’s watercolor paintings. Constant Holley MacRae, who ran the boarding house for artists, had a deep appreciation for Yeto. The Bush-Holley House reflects her interest in Yeto’s Japanese culture, evoked by the many Japanese objects she and her husband, artist Elmer Livingston MacRae, owned.

Greenwich Historical Society, 47 Strickland Road, Cos Cob.; 203-869-6899

Keeler Tavern, a Communication Hub

After her brother’s death, Anna Keeler took over W. Keeler’s Hotel in 1827 and renamed it the Resseguie Hotel after her marriage to Abijah Resseguie in 1829. It remained, as it had since the Revolutionary War, the most prominent hub and gathering place in the region. Plan your visit at and find school programs at

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center, 152 Main Street, Ridgefield.; 203-438-5485

photo: Le Petit Studio

Have you Herd?

Guided tours are back at Hill-Stead Museum! Plus, the museum is partnering with Clatter Ridge Farm to offer a unique holiday gift. Bring the joy of farm life to a friend or loved one this holiday season with an interactive experience with their Sheep Cam. Options range from $25 to $250. Visit

Hill-Stead Museum, 35 Mountain Road, Farmington.; 860-677-4787

Virtual Offerings at the Twain House

The Mark Twain House & Museum was among the first area museums to take its public and education programs online at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly a year later, the Twain House continues to expand its digital offerings. In addition to its interactive, annotated 3D virtual reality tour of the house, the popular Mark My Words author talks, A Little Harmless Fun discussions with Frank Rizzo, and Trouble at Home talks about all things Twain, The MTH&M offers innovative education programs such as Sam’s Shorts and Catching Up With the Clemenses.

Each month in Sam’s Shorts the museum posts a brief passage from one of Twain’s less-familiar works, including speeches, essays, short stories, and letters, and invites you to read, reflect, and respond. They share what they learned from your responses, answer questions, and tell you a bit more about the background and context of the work.

All of the public programs that museum has online since last spring are available to view at

The Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford.; 860-247-0998

Rediscovering Black History

This past summer the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center began its Collections Digitization Planning Project, the first step in a multi-year effort to make its nationally-important collections accessible online. The project, funded by NEH and CT Humanities, brought scholars, digital librarians, and preservationists together to review and assess critical aspects of its 19th-century collections.

Tess Chakkalakal (Bowdoin College), dann Broyld (CCSU), Julia Rosenbaum (Bard College) and others assessed thousands of items in the collections of Black History and Uncle Tom’s Cabin materials, and art created by Stowe. The advisory team re-discovered items that provide important visual context for the national discussion about Reconstruction and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Collections items will be made more accessible on a public platform, on which they will be linked to Stowe and Beecher family materials about themes in 19th-century U.S. history: abolition, Black history and racial attitudes in the U.S., women’s history,  women’s suffrage, civic reform, and Stowe’s legacy as a writer.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, 77 Forest Street, Hartford.; 860-522-9258


Be sure to check out our latest podcasts!