Caryn B. Davis Reflects on Photographing the Hill-Stead Museum

May 12, 2017

By Caryn B. Davis

Caryn B. Davis

Caryn B. Davis was commissioned to photograph and write an article about the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut for Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. She sent us one of the photos and a portion of her article:

Visiting the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut—ten miles northwest of Hartford—is like stepping back in time, which is just what its creator, Theodate Pope Riddle (1867–1946), intended. The Colonial Revival retirement home she built for her parents was as precisely orchestrated as her last will, which established a trust that would ultimately turn it into a museum for the “enjoyment of the public.” Because Riddle wanted it to reflect how her family lived, she stipulated that “the house and its contents remain intact, not to be moved, lent, or sold.” By this she meant that every object was to stay not only in the same room, but also in its same location.

Hill-Stead is home to a sizeable assemblage of European, American, Near Eastern, and Asian paintings, sculpture, works on paper, books, ceramics, furniture, rugs, textiles, metalwork, glass, and other decorative arts—together formally known as the Alfred Atmore Pope Collection, in honor of Theodate’s father. “Unlike other historic home museums, the Hill-Stead has no railings or text panels and very few ropes, so visitors are able to get close to the artworks and accessories,” says Susan Ballek, the museum’s executive director and CEO. “They have the full experience of being a guest in the Popes’ home as it appeared in 1901.”