Saturday, February 11, 2012

I get around

In the past few weeks I also visited the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut. It’s the former home of Theodate Pope Riddle, the architect who designed not only the home itself but the Avon Old Farms School, amongst others.

I learned a few new facts about her, including that she was originally named Effie but later adopted the family name Theodate because it was not so recognizably female – helpful for a woman in a male-dominated profession like architecture. (Many women then and today, of course, use their initials; hers was an interesting choice.) She was also a spiritualist – which I gathered from the spines of the books in the fascinating library – who, unhappy with the leadership and direction of the spiritualist movement in the US, traveled to Britain to meet with spiritualist leaders there…on the Lusitania. She survived; her maid and friend were killed.

The Pope family were avid art collectors, and it’s a thrill to be able to walk up to gorgeous works by Monet, Manet, Degas, Whistler, and Cassatt in the rooms of a home. The museum is also featuring a changing exhibit of prints from their archives, which is wonderful.

One of the best, and unexpected, aspects of our visit was a group of wind sculptures by Lyman Whitaker at the entrance to the museum. They were great fun to photograph. Here’s my favorite:

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