July 17, 2019

‘Free Day’ at Florence Griswold Museum Tomorrow

Exterior view of the Florence Griswold Museum, which hosts a Free Day on Sunday.

OLD LYME — The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme presents its annual Community Free Day on Sunday, May 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Old Lyme. The event offers free admission to the Museum’s 12-acre campus, and includes family friendly activities and a special appearance by Diana Dulap portraying artist Matilda Browne in the Florence Griswold House from 11am to 4pm.

“Our Community Free Day is a great way for all ages to spend the day at the Museum,” stated David D.J. Rau, Director of Education and Outreach. “The fun and educational activities planned for this year are a wonderful introduction for the many first-time visitors we get on this annual day.”

Museum-goers visiting the original Florence Griswold House are treated to guides sharing stories of the Lyme Art Colony artists who stayed with Miss Florence in the boardinghouse over 100 years ago. The house, decorated as it was in 1910, includes the original paintings that artists created on the door and wall panels of the house.

On view in the Museum’s Krieble Gallery, the exhibition The Great Americans: Portraits by Jac Lahav asks the question, who are our national heroes? Benjamin Franklin? Rosa Parks? Albert Einstein? Lahav’s nearly seven-foot-tall paintings of 30+ famous figures are a celebration of America layered with references to history, lore, and imagery that shape our understanding of these larger-than-life icons. Through his psychologically complex and sometimes cheeky treatment of iconic figures from politicians to celebrities, Lahav explores the nature of cultural identity.

One day only! Matilda Browne, one of the key members of the Lyme Art Colony, comes to life in this first-person theatrical appearance by writer and actor Diana Dunlap. Enjoy our visitor from yesteryear who was born on May 8, 1869, as she strolls through the Griswold House, telling stories of a life filled with art and adventure from 11am to 4pm.

At 2pm, William J. Mann, awarding-winning biographer, LGBTQ activist, professor, and Director of Central Connecticut State University’s LGBT Center, gives a gallery talk focusing on two figures from the current exhibition, The Great Americans. Mann has made a career of deconstructing the enduring appeal of American icons.

Central to his book The Wars of the Roosevelts (2016), is a fascinating alternative picture of Eleanor, who witnessed firsthand the brutality of politics (her uncle Theodore’s politically expedient destruction of her father Elliott and her husband Franklin’s management of his extramarital affairs), emerging stronger as a result. Moreover, Mann’s discussion of Eleanor’s own outside relationships with both men and women are grounded in a 21st-century awareness. As a professor of LGBT history, he has also considered the legacy of Harvey Milk, openly gay San Francisco Supervisor assassinated in 1978, who has arguably become more famous and important in death than in life.

While at the Museum, families are encouraged to follow scavenger hunt cards in the Florence Griswold House, and uncover art details in the Krieble art gallery with “Can You Find Me” game cards.

Families can pick up the keepsake publication, My Sticker Book Guide to the Florence Griswold Museum. The beautifully illustrated booklet tells the story of Miss Florence and her artist friends. Each time a child visits the Museum, they earn a sticker to complete one of the booklet illustrations. Those who collect all six stickers receive a gift.

From 11am- 4pm, drop in at the Museum’s Education Center for a quick painting lesson before heading down to the river or out in the garden for an afternoon of painting. All materials included. Adventurers of all ages can learn more about nature through a selection of Explorer Kits. All materials included.

Free Day attendees can also visit the Chadwick Art Studio, presented as it would have looked in 1920, the Rafal Landscape Center, as well as the Museum’s gardens and grounds along the Lieutenant River. The award-winning Café Flo will be open for lunch.

A consistent recipient of a Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence, the Florence Griswold Museum has been called a “Giverny in Connecticut” by the Wall Street Journal, and a “must-see” by the Boston Globe. In addition to the restored Florence Griswold House, the Museum features a gallery for changing art exhibitions, education and landscape centers, a restored artist’s studio, twelve acres along the Lieutenant River, and extensive gardens. The Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Connecticut. Visit FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org for more information.

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