HAHS Launches Lecture Series for Preservation Month

Home Improvement: Reframing the Stories Historic Artists’ Homes & Studios Can Tell  A partnership between Historic Artists’ Homes & Studios and the Florence Griswold Museum 

In celebration of National Preservation Month join us for a three-part series of curated pairings of talks and guided conversation focused on the future of historic house and studio interpretation. 

Facilitated by Valerie A. Balint, Senior Program Manager, Historic Artists' Homes and Studios, and Amy Kurtz Lansing, Curator, Florence Griswold Museum 

Friday, May 7, May 14, and May 21 at 3 pm ET:  Offered virtually on the GoToWebinar platform. No charge.

Week 1: Opening Eyes to New Narratives: Register Here

Presentations #1 & #2 • Friday, May 7, 3pm 

Queering Memory and the Alice Austen House 

Victoria Munro, Executive Director, Alice Austen House, Staten Island, NY 

Munro explores the process of transformation of this historic home to reinterpret and truthfully represent the life and work of Alice Austen to include LGBTQ+ histories in its permanent gallery spaces and public and educational programs. From scholars’ research and planning through to implementation and outside partnerships, the Alice Austen House has begun to provide safe and inclusive programs for contemporary LGBTQ+ storytelling and continues to identify ways to enhance our social and historical responsibilities to the LGBTQ+ community.  

Unrolling the Work of Weaver Loja Saarinen 

Kevin Adkisson, Associate Curator, Saarinen House, (Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research), Saarinen House, Bloomfield Hills, MI 

Adkisson discusses the ways in which Loja Saarinen, weaver, designer, and entrepreneur, has recently been brought to the forefront of interpretation at Cranbrook’s Saarinen House. The Art Deco home and studio, completed in 1930, stands as a handcrafted total-work-of-art by Loja Saarinen, her architect husband Eliel, and their children Eero and Pipsan. Recent exhibitions of rarely displayed work, refocused interpretation, and extensive virtual programming have expanded the understanding of Loja Saarinen and her impressive commercial weaving workshop. 

Week 2: The Artist’s Home and Studio in the Contemporary Community: Register Here

Presentations #3 & #4 • Friday, May 14, 3pm 

SURSUM: The Elisabet Ney Museum Arises 

Laura Esparza, Division Manager, Museums and Cultural Programs Division, Austin Parks and Recreation Department , Elisabet Ney Museum, Austin, TX 

The Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin, Texas is the studio of iconoclastic sculptor Elisabet Ney (1833-1907).  The first woman to matriculate at a German school of sculpture, Elisabet blazed a trail across two continents, advocating for women’s rights, arts education and democracy in the late 19th century while creating an oeuvre of portraits of some of the most renowned artists, intellectuals and statesmen in Europe and later, in Texas.  In recent years, the Ney Museum has overcome a public relations debacle over a landscape Master Plan, re-building its community’s trust while establishing a sense of place for old and new audiences. 

Monumental Opportunities: Richmond and the Valentine Studio, Christina K. Vida, Elise H. Wright Curator of General Collections, The Valentine Museum, Richmond, VA 

The Valentine Museum has a long history of interpreting the city's Lost Cause public art inside and out of Edward Valentine's 19th-century sculpture studio on the museum's campus. 2020 brought major changes to Richmond's monument landscape and has offered the Valentine Museum, which operates the Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio, an opportunity to rethink the way we interpret the Lost Cause and its artistic legacy. Vida discusses the ongoing community-driven process that the Valentine is undertaking to ensure the city's Lost Cause art contributes to meaningful dialogue today.  

Week 3: Authenticity at the Artist’s Home and Studio: Register Here

Presentations #5 & #6 • Friday, May 21, 3pm 

Creating Authenticity: A Case Study 

Elizabeth Jacks, Executive Director, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Catskill, NY 

When we visit the home or studio of a famous person, isn’t it a bit disappointing that he or she is not there? The most authentic experience would surely be an in-person meeting, and our challenge as stewards of historic places is that the artist is dead and the world is irreparably changed. Given these realities , how can we create an authentic experience? Instead of creating the impression that the historic inhabitants have “just stepped out,” we asked ourselves if we could aim for the experience that they have “just stepped in.” Adapting this approach, Jacks discusses ways to remove the velvet ropes and invite visitors in as guests, as well as through the subtle introduction of technology, offering interpretation allows the historic characters to speak for themselves. 

Art, History, and Authenticity at the Florence Griswold Museum 

Amy Kurtz Lansing, Curator, Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, CT 

Located on 12 riverside acres in the town of Old Lyme, the Florence Griswold Museum incorporates an art colony boardinghouse, historic gardens, re-created artists’ studios, and an artists’ trail linking the reunited portions of the original family estate. Recent work with the Museum’s historic site, collections, and the stories of Florence Griswold and Lyme Art Colony have led us to interpret them with fresh eyes. Archival, archaeological, and art historical evidence underpin our interpretation of the site, with the addition of perspectives invited from outside the museum. As we consider the familiar in a new light, how can we stay true to what drew artists to Old Lyme circa 1900 while also looking at our story more broadly and holistically?