The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Connecticut has always impressed me ever since I taught a historic house museum workshop there nearly a decade ago. It’s an unpretentious site with two Victorian-era houses somewhat overshadowed by the adjacent high school and Mark Twain House and Visitor Center. Despite its modest appearance, it has a big ambitious mission:
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center preserves and interprets Stowe’s Hartford home and the Center’s historic collections, promotes vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspires commitment to social justice and positive change.
This mission infuses their programs and activities, connecting Stowe’s issues to the contemporary face of race relations, class and gender issues, economic justice and education equity. They recognize they’re not a traditional historic house museum, indeed they call themselves, “a 21st-century museum and program center.”
It’s gutsy, but if you’ve ever met Katherine Kane, the executive director, you’ll know the source (there’s something about the name Katherine that inspires moxie: Catherine Beecher, Katharine Hepburn, Catherine the Great of Russia. . .) and she’s pulling it off impressively. Take a look at their website and you’ll see they offer Continue reading