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A Decade of Making History -- 1996 through 2006

In 1996 the Florence Griswold Museum adopted a comprehensive master plan designed to transform the institution into a major cultural destination combining art, history, and nature. Supported by a decade-long capital campaign that raised over $16 million dollars, the final phase of the plan focused on the preservation of the 1817 Florence Griswold House and the reinterpretation of the Lyme Art Colony Collection housed within this landmark.



1996: With the support of the State of Connecticut, the Museum purchases five acres of adjacent property (nearly doubling its holdings) that were once part of the original Griswold estate and one of the most significant painting grounds of the American Impressionists.

1998: A two-year archeological dig provides information about the historic use of the property and life of the Lyme Art Colony. Nearly 20,000 artifacts including paint tubes, brushes, and personal items are recovered and the location of Childe Hassam's studio is discovered.

1999: The Hartman Education Center is built and opened. Since then over 120,000 visitors have enjoyed programs, events, workshops, and summer camps in this hands-on discovery facility.

1999: The Museum celebrates the centennial year of the Lyme Art Colony with special exhibitions and programs, including the restoration of Florence Griswold's gardens to their appearance circa 1910 at the height of the colony. Guided by a landscape historian and maintained by devoted volunteers, the garden continues to mature and grow in popularity.

2000: Based on a colloquium of scholars and professionals and extensive fieldwork at historic sites throughout New England, the Griswold House Interpretive Plan is formulated to provide the framework for the reinterpretation and installation of the Lyme Art Colony Collection in the Griswold House.

2001: The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company announces its intention to donate its entire fine arts collection of 190 works to the Florence Griswold Museum. Considered one of the country's finest collections of American art, this gift is celebrated by cultural and state leaders as one of the most significant gifts to a Connecticut museum in years.

2002: The Museum opens The Robert and Nancy Krieble Gallery, a modern gallery overlooking the Lieutenant River. Its award-winning design by Centerbrook Architects accommodates 10,000 square feet of exhibition space, collection storage, visitor amenities and a new museum shop.


(above: Tammi Flynn, Florence Griswold Museum. Krieble Gallery thru front garden: The Robert and Nancy Krieble Gallery of American Art opened in the summer of 2002. Designed by Centerbrook Architects, this new gallery space blends in with the existing historic landscape.)


(above: Jeff Goldberg/Esto. All rights reserved. Krieble Interior: Three large gallery spaces allow for changing exhibitions. In addition, a state of the art storage and research facility houses the fine art collections and archives. )


(above: Florence Griswold Museum. River behind Krieble Gallery: The Krieble Gallery overlooks the Lieutenant River, a site that many of the Lyme Art Colony artists captured in their paintings.)


2003: The American Artist in Connecticut, an exhibition devoted to the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection, concludes its one-year run in the Krieble Gallery and Museum attendance increases 75% the first year.

2003: Based on findings from a three-volume Historic Structures Report, design work begins on the preservation of the Florence Griswold House with over $1.5 million in grants from federal and state funding agencies.

2004: Guided by a comprehensive Furnishings Plan for the Florence Griswold House, curatorial staff begin the process of having wallpaper and carpets reproduced and securing furnishings to accurately recreate the appearance of the "Holy House," as the artists called it, during its heyday as the center of the Lyme Art Colony circa 1910.

2005: The Florence Griswold House closes to the public in May 2005 in order to undergo the following capital improvements:

2006: A decade of fundraising, research, and planning culminate as the Florence Griswold House reopens on July 1st with its new public presentation as A Country Retreat for Artists. For the first time, the Museum has been able to completely integrate the collections, archives, and central story of the site around the Griswold House's former role as the boardinghouse for the Lyme Art Colony from 1899 to 1937.


(above: Woodhull Adams, Miss Florence's Parlor, 1910, Florence Griswold Museum. Adams, Parlor: A painting of the parlor in the Griswold House from 1912. The artists redecorated the parlor and the hall, the two most public spaces in the boarding house, in 1910. Adams shows the parlor after this redecorating campaign, with the newly upholstered Rococo Revival Sofa, green wallpaper, and a large Turkish rug on the floor. Paintings of the interior of the Griswold House are helping to guide the accurate refurnishing of the house to circa 1910.)


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