Once Around the City: WPA art tours, Mansion tours and events

NORWALK, Conn. – With the recent completion of docent guide training, Norwalkers once again have the opportunity to learn about the treasure hidden in plain sight at their City Hall.

Norwalk has one of the largest collections of restored Works Progress Administration (WPA) murals in the country, according to a Norwalk Arts Commission press release. Artists employed by the government during the Great Depression created 46 murals; 31 are at Norwalk City Hall.

Many of the City Hall murals depict scenes of Norwalk at work between 1935 and 1941. Besides the now defunct hat manufacturing industry, these murals portray scenes of economic sectors still active in Norwalk today: agriculture, aquaculture/shellfish industry, and the arts, with murals by Alexander J. Rummler and John Steuart Curry.

Other notable works include Justin Gruelle’s illustrations of Mark Twain’s works including “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”

“Although we have this wonderful collection of WPA murals, few people know about them,” says Dr. Susan Wallerstein, Chairman of the Norwalk Arts Commission and docent. “We’re excited about this opportunity to share the WPA murals with the rest of the community.”

The 90-minute guided tours are scheduled from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 31, and Saturday. Tours are free but space is limited. Advance registration is required. Register online.

The Norwalk Arts Commission’s vision is connecting the arts with the community.

This includes partnering with other city departments and local arts organizations on arts related programs and services, with a special focus on public art.


Lockwood-Mathews schedule revised

Due to ADA construction, the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum will reopen for tours on June 12 with a revised schedule of events, according to a LMMM press release.. While the museum is working at increasing its access by building an elevator and upgrading its restrooms to bring its facilities into ADA compliance, the first floor’s Period Rooms will reopen to visitors. The museum’s gift shop and second floor will be temporarily closed. Visitors are encouraged to check the museum’s schedules online before visiting, or call 203-838-9799 for updates on unforeseen cancellations due to construction.

The planned exhibit, “The Stairs Below: The Mansion’s Domestic Servants, 1870-1920,” scheduled to open Sept. 13, has been postponed to 2015. A lecture by Dr. Jennifer Pustz scheduled for Sept. 13 titled “Voices from the Back Stairs: Domestic Servants in 19th and 20th Century New England” is also postponed to 2015 due to construction.

This summer, the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum will be open for mini to tours on the following dates:

  • June 14, during the Pride in the Park event sponsored by Triangle Community Center
  • June 22, during LMMM’s Ice Cream Social
  • June 28 & 29, during the Norwalk Art Festival

On those dates, visitors will be invited to walk throughout the Mansion’s period rooms on the first floor and enjoy the beauty and splendor of this Victorian era Mansion for only $5.

“Edith Wharton’s Gilded Age: Fiction and Architecture”

A lecture by Prof. Richard Guy Wilson

June 11, 11 a.m.

$25 for members, $30 non-members

Prof. Richard Guy Wilson, will give a talk titled, “Edith Wharton’s Gilded Age: Fiction and Architecture.” This lecture will explore Edith Wharton’s interest in the visual arts and how her houses impacted her fiction. One of the most celebrated American authors, Edith Wharton and her best to known novels — “House of Mirth, Custom of the Country, and Age of Innocence” — portrayed the complexities of American life during the Gilded Age. A book signing courtesy of Elm Street Books in New Canaan will follow the lecture.

“Victorian Ice Cream Social”

Sunday, June, 22, noon to 5 p.m.

Free General Admission

Recreating the atmosphere of a bygone era, the Lockwood to Mathews Mansion Museum will bring back a highlight of summer at the Mansion, the “Victorian Ice Cream Social.” This community event will use the Mansion as a backdrop for a wide range of educational and family to friendly activities. Children will learn about and play turn to of to the to century lawn games such as croquet and badminton, while costumed historical interpreters will wander throughout the crowds, interacting with children and adults alike as they bring the Victorian era to life. While general admission to the event is free and so are selected programs, the museum will charge for some of the activities and for all food sold during the event. Tickets will be available at LMMM’s booths at the designated locations in Mathews Park.

“Nooks and Crannies of New York”

July 16, 11 a.m.

A Lecture with Justin Ferrate

$25 for members, $30 non-members

This internationally to known guide will reveal fascinating yet lesser to known treasures of one of the most iconic cities in the world. Lecture to goers will be surprised and amazed by Mr. Ferrate’s virtual tour of New York City.

“Love Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance”

Sept. 10, 11 a.m.

A Lecture and book signing by author Jean Zimmerman

$25 for members, $30 non-members

This lecture will discuss the life and times of Edith Minturn Stokes and American architect Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes. The author will talk about the romance of this Gilded Age couple, once portrayed by John Singer Sargent, and their rarefied world of artistic achievements, politics, and privilege. Book signing courtesy of Elm Street Books in New Canaan.

“Old to Fashioned Flea Market”

Sept. 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Free General Admission

The Lockwood to Mathews Mansion Museum will hold its seventh annual Old Fashioned Flea Market on Sunday, Sept. 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Mathews Park. The market will feature antiques, collectibles, jewelry, household items, furniture, clothing, toys and of course, plenty of bargains. A collection of classic and antique cars will also be on display 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Hidden Treasures: Artifacts from the LMMM Collections”

Wednesday, Oct. 22, noon to 4 p.m. through Jan. 4, 2015

$10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6, 8 to 18

Exhibit Preview on Oct. 18 (at the Gala Opening)

The Lockwood to Mathews Mansion Museum will open a new exhibit which will bring to light hidden treasures from the Lockwood to Mathews Mansion Museum’s collections. Rarely seen artifacts and exquisite decorative arts objects from the Lockwood and Mathews families will be on view, giving visitors a glimpse into the personal lives and styles of the Mansion’s former occupants. There will be an exhibit preview the night of the Gala, on Oct. 18, starting at 6:30 p.m.. The exhibit will open to the public on Wednesday, Oct. 22 and run through Jan. 4, 2015.

Oct. 18. Cocktails 7 p.m.; Dinner 8:30 p.m.

“Mystery at Elm Park: The Mansion’s Pen and Inkwell Gala”

With Steve Berry, Keynote Speaker

For ticket info: www.lockwoodmathewsmansion.com

A gala on Oct. 18 will feature NY Times (No. 1 internationally) bestselling author Steve Berry, as keynote speaker. Berry and his wife, Elizabeth, are the creators of the History Matters foundation dedicated to historic preservation. LMMM has launched a prize to winning “Young Writers’ Competition” among students from area schools to encourage creative thinking and writing. Mr. Berry will judge the finalists and be on hand when this contest culminates with the awards presentation at the gala.

Halloween: Ghostly Sightings Tours

Oct. 22 to 31

Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.         

General Admission $20

The “Ghostly Sightings Tours” at the Mansion will focus on the history of the house, when it was a private residence, between 1868 and 1938. Visitors may encounter a ghost who is haunted by those memories and walks through the first and second floors of the Mansion during tour hours, but only at Halloween.

Nov. 6 through Jan. 7 to Jan. 4, 2015

Thurs. Nov. 6, 5 to 7 p.m. Opening Reception

“Old Factories, New People”

In Partnership with the Norwalk Public Library and Tod Bryant, President of the Norwalk Preservation Society

New Photography Exhibit

$10 for adults, $8 for seniors; $6, 8 to 18

Thanks to a generous Planning Grant from the CT Humanities, the Norwalk Public Library will partner with the Lockwood to Mathews Mansion Museum and Tod Bryant, President of the Norwalk Preservation Trust to launch an exhibit featuring photographs of people who worked in the once thriving manufacturing industry during the early 20th century. Those images will be juxtaposed with Tod Bryant’s photographs of people who live and work in the former factory buildings in 2014. Connecticut Humanities (CTH) is a non to profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities that funds, creates and collaborates on hundreds of cultural programs across Connecticut each year. These programs bring together people of all ages and backgrounds to express, share and explore ideas in thoughtful and productive ways. From local discussion groups to major exhibitions on important historical events, CTH programs engage, enlighten and educate. Learn more by visiting www.cthumanities.org.

Victorian Tea

Nov. 9, 2 to 4 p.m.

For ticket info: www.lockwoodmathewsmansion.com

Tea lovers, history buffs and those looking for a unique experience will delight in attending the Lockwood to Mathews Mansion Museum’s Annual Victorian Tea. This Victorian era National Historic Landmark celebrates the great afternoon “teatime” tradition, said to have been started by the Duchess of Bedford, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies to in to waiting.   Come enjoy a traditional tea surrounded by unparalleled Gilded Age interiors and furniture and the splendor of the most magnificent Mansion in Connecticut.The family to friendly event features a formal English tea in the Mansion’s Rotunda, including a wide selection of desserts, sandwiches, and the traditional scones and cream, catered by a tea ceremony expert. Music and entertainment will also be featured.

Holiday exhibit

Nov. 28, Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

$10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6, 8 to 18

This exhibit will trace the development of the holiday traditions during the Victorian era in America. Visitors will see its evolution from 1850 to the 1900’s, from small tabletop tree with edibles and handmade ornaments, to lavishly embellished trees that stood on the floor and almost reached the ceiling. The Museum will also explore the Mansion during the 1930’s, and the decorations and gift to giving traditions during Florence Mathews’ era.

Holiday Open House

Dec. 14, noon to 4 p.m.

$5 Admission

The Lockwood to Mathews Mansion Museum will create a festive family event and several hours of entertainment, all in the spirit of an old to fashioned community celebration. Holiday displays, Santa Claus, music, holiday refreshments, and the cherished Teddy Bear and Doll Victorian Tea will delight and entertain the entire community.


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