Visiting the Florence Griswold Museum with Dad

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Last November my dad visited from Florida and we decided to explore a piece of Connecticut we have never seen before. I picked him up from my sister's apartment in New London and traveled down I-95 to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme. It was quite the nifty place, and we came to know that it is the birthplace of American Impressionism.

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We started off by visiting the Krieble Gallery, which houses a number of paintings and scultures. There were two special exhibits at the time of our visit: Faces and Figures: American Portraits from the Florence Griswold Museum and The Artistic Heritage of Connecticut: Highlights form the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection. I was particularly interested in this building because The Magic of Christmas exhibition was on display. The 2007 theme was Fantasy Trees from the Garden. There definitely was some artistic liberty taken, which made it very intriguing. There was a Garden of Good and Evil tree, an Italian garden tree, and even a Madison Square Garden tree. Miss Florence's Artist Tree was covered in palette's individually decorated by artists.

From there we ventured outside (it wasn't too chilly...for me anyway) to see the riverfront that inspired so many artists, the herbal remains of the gardens (thyme and rosemary), and the Griswold House. Dad was particulary interested in the house, I think, because the docent that was there was from Norwich and they grew up in town about the same time. There were a lot of memory exchanges in between learning about Florence Griswold and her boarding artists. Seeing the period furniture was nifty, but everything was also decorated for Christmas, which I liked a lot.

The piece of resistance at the Florence Griswold Museum is the dining room that showcases the painted panels. The most famous is The Fox Chase by Henry Rankin Poore. According to the guidebook that I purchased at the site, it is "a caricature of the core group of artists who congregated at Miss Florence's boardinghouse at Old Lyme." The artists portrayed include Childe Hassam, Matilda Browne, Frank Bicknell, Arthur Heming, William Robinson, Walter Griffin, Harry Hoffman, Will Howe Foote, Henry C White, Louis Paul Dessar, Alphonse Jongers, George Bogert, Jules Turcas, Henry Rankin Poore, Frank Vincent DuMond, Cullen Yates, Allen B. Talcott, Clark Voorhees, Lewis Cohen, William Henry Howe, Charleton Wiggins, Henry Ward Ranger, Edward Rook, and Willard Metcalf.

If you can't make it to Old Lyme but you want to see photos of some of the paintings and artifacts, click here and explore!

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