Florence Griswold Museum

96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT 06371 - United States





The Florence Griswold Museum is a nationally recognized center for American art and history. The 12-acre site on the Lieutenant River in the historic town of Old Lyme, offers visitors a variety art, history, and nature in one New England village setting. It’s cornerstone, the Florence Griswold House, is a fine example of a Late Georgian-style house with Federal-style features designed in 1817 by Samuel Belcher. In 2006 the Museum completed restoration of the boardinghouse to its 1910 heyday, when American artists such as Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf, and leading public figures such as Woodrow Wilson, called it their summer home. Over 135 American artists, between 1899 and the 1930’s, boarded in the Florence Griswold House when it was the center of Impressionism in America. Leading artists were invited to paint a panel on the walls or doors of the House. The resulting interior, an ensemble of 43 panels, represents the most complete expression of an American art colony.

The Robert and Nancy Krieble Gallery is a state-of-the-art exhibition, collection storage, and study facility. The Gallery hosts changing exhibitions of American art and culture. Other facilities include, the Hartman Education Center, which was constructed on the site of an original barn and used for education programs for people of all ages; the Rafal Landscape Center, a renovated barn where visitors learn about the landscape’s cultural importance as an inspirational place for American artists to live and work; and the c.1920 William Chadwick Studio, which was moved to the site and restored as an example of a Lyme Art Colony artist studio.

Visitors enjoy Miss Florence's restored garden and orchard, which were the subject for so many paintings by the Lyme Art Colony artists.


Visitors will enjoy touring the Florence Griswold House and the exhibition, "An American Place: The Art Colony at Old Lyme." The exhibition celebrates works by painters of the Lyme Art Colony and explains why, during the first two decades of the 20th century, the village of Old Lyme was the setting for one of the largest and most significant art colonies in America. Works by Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, William Chadwick, and Matilda Browne are featured in the very setting the artists lived and worked.

More than a remarkable building, the Florence Griswold House occupies a unique place in the history of American art. It brings alive the work of American Impressionist artists in the place where they lived and painted. The artists, with irreverent good humor, dubbed it the "Holy House." They left Miss Florence, and generations of art lovers, something very special. Many painted directly on the walls and doors of the Griswold House. The tradition was probably imported from hostelries in the French art colonies of Barbizon, Giverny, and Pont-Aven. Forty-three such panels appear throughout the downstairs rooms. The most breathtaking example is found in the dining room. It is one of the most complete chronicles of the art colony movement in America. There is no other room like it in America.

In the Krieble Gallery, artist Dana Sherwood brings together films, sculpture installations, and oil and watercolor paintings to interrogate the relationship between wild nature and domestic culture. "Dana Sherwood: Animal Appetites and Other Encounters in Wildness," on through September 18, is a whimsical, thought-provoking rumination on connections between humankind and our animal neighbors. Last year Sherwood served as the Museum’s Artist-in-Residence, creating an outdoor reimagination of one of the Griswold House period rooms the artist staged an inviting banquet, where she filmed nocturnal animals feasting. Come see the film and set in the exhibition and find out which creatures visited! Inspired by fantasies like Alice in Wonderland, Sherwood fills the dining room of the boardinghouse with gleaming, candy-like sculptures and terrariums filled with flowers, cake, and hungry snails. As Sherwood observes, “when you invite the chaos of nature as a collaborator, there’s no telling what’s going to happen.”

Visitors are encouraged to stroll the Artists' Trail around the Museum's 12 acres and enjoy the view of the Lieutenant River. They can stand at Childe Hassam's favorite painting spot, stroll Miss Florence's lovingly restored garden, and rest where Chadwick posed his model for the now famous," On the Piazza."

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