Expanding Horizons: Celebrating 20 Years of the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection

October 3, 2020-May 23, 2021

  • Admission is limited and available with 24-hour advance online ticketing only. Café Flo by reservation only (860) 434-5542 x 126.

Expanding Horizons commemorates the 20th anniversary of the transformative gift of the entire 190-piece fine art collection of the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company to the Museum in 2001. More than simply a retrospective of this beautiful and important collection, Expanding Horizons represents a thorough reevaluation of this core collection of 18th-early 20th century works by Connecticut artists.

Prior to the gift of the Hartford Steam Boiler Fine Arts Collection in 2001, the Museum’s mission was singularly focused on interpreting the Lyme Art Colony story centered at Florence Griswold’s boardinghouse in the early 1900s and presenting examples of American Tonalist and Impressionist artists who had painted here.

With HSB’s monumental corporate gift, the scope of the Museum’s collection instantly broadened to include artists working in every corner of Connecticut from the 18th century to the mid-20th century. While landscape was the preferred subject of most artists visiting Florence Griswold’s boardinghouse, the HSB Collection brought to the Museum canonical examples of 18th century American portraiture, 19th century American landscape (including Hudson River School artists), narrative genre scenes, still lifes, figurative compositions, Impressionist works, and even modernism. The HSB Collection truly opened up a whole new world of possibilities for this institution.

Twenty leading art historians will re-examine approximately 50 works through the lenses of material culture, food studies, environmental science, feminist theory, representation, gender, and race. We look forward to showcasing the innovative ways that American art scholarship has progressed over the last two decades as these voices bring valuable context and cultural understanding to our interpretations of American art and history. What we learn in this process will impact and inform the way we study and display our collections for decades to come.