Museum Collections & Exhibition Galleries

permanent-gallery ©Durston-Saylor

Greenwich Historical Society has two museum galleries: The Permanent Collections Gallery showcases works by members of the Cos Cob art colony and the Special Exhibitions Gallery presents rotating exhibitions. 

Greenwich Historical Society also maintains Online Exhibitions, digital archives and houses a large museum collection that provides art and objects for exhibitions.

Elmer Livingston MacRae (1875-1953) Schooner in the Ice, 1900, Oil on canvas

The Museum Collection is comprised of objects that are connected to and convey the history of the Town of Greenwich and Bush-Holley Historic Site, the home of Connecticut’s first Impressionist art colony at the turn of the 20th century. Objects in the collection date from the 18th through the 20th century and document the material culture of present and former inhabitants of Greenwich and its region—fine and decorative arts; maritime, agricultural, industrial and domestic artifacts; costumes and textiles; and paintings and other works by those artists who boarded at or visited the Bush-Holley House. Many of the pieces are exhibited in Bush-Holley House and provide the context for its dual interpretation—the Bush family from 1790 to 1825 and the Cos Cob art colony from 1890 to 1920.


A number of rooms in the Bush-Holley House also display art; some works were painted on site like Childe Hassam’s Clarissa, which is of the Bush-Holley House entryway where the painting is located. 

Exhibitions in our Permanent Collections Gallery include The Cos Cob Art Colony; Highlights of Greenwich History timeline; Treasures from the Collections; and the short film “Our Place in History.”


Highlights from the Cos Cob Art Colony Collection

John Henry Twachtman (1853–1902) 
Untitled: Old Saltbox, ca. 1895, 
Oil on Canvas 
Museum purchase, x2000.08

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Clarissa, 1912
Oil on canvas

The Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich purchased with funds from Ann K. Arnold, Mr. and Mrs. Harris J. Ashton, Louis C. Baker, Bankers Trust Co. Connecticut Ltd., Mr. and Mrs. Edward H. Bragg, Jr. Martin Edelston, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas M. Evans, Mrs. Agnew Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. Everett Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. Robert B. Goergen, Mr. Brooks Hamoffman, Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Lyon, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Malkin, Mrs. John Mayer, Mr. and Mrs, Russell S. Reynolds, Jr., Stolt Parcel Tankers Inc. Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Thome, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh B. Vanderbilt, Mr. and Mrs. David W. Wallace, Bernard and Jean Yudain, 1995.03

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
The Mantle Piece, 1912, 
Oil on cigar box lid, m
Museum purchase, 2005.05.01

A young girl, unidentified, stands in front of the fireplace in the best bedroom of Bush-Holley House. The chair to the right is still in the collection of the Historical Society.

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
The Writing Desk, 1915
Museum purchase, x2002.109

George Wharton Edwards (1859-1950)
The Grand Bazaar at Constantinople (Bayuk Tcharchi)
, 1928-1929
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mr. Norris C. Carter, 1958.11.07

Edwards was a prolific artist, illustrator and writer who produced more than sixty illustrated books. Around 1909 he began to focus most of his time towards writing and illustrating sumptuous gift travel books. In 1928 he traveled to Turkey looking for locales that were exotic to Westerners. Shortly after completing this painting, it was exhibited at New York’s Grand Central Art Galleries and at the National Academy of Design. For his book Constantinople/Istamboul, however, he chose a different view of the vaulted Grand Bazaar.

Walter A. Fitch (1861-1910)
View of the Garden, ca. 1900
Pastel on paper
Gift of Ruth Fitch Mason, 1958.04.02

Fitch began making annual summer visits to Cos Cob in 1900, and was a year-round resident from about 1906 to 1909. He rendered this view, believed to be the Holley House garden, in pastel, a medium whose portability and nature made it particularly well suited to the Impressionist practice of working out of doors, en plein air, and capturing the essence of a place and time.

Ernest Lawson (1873-1939)
A Sunny Morning, North Mianus, Connecticut, ca. 1892
Oil on canvas
Purchased in honor of Claire F. Vanderbilt with donations to the Greenwich Historic Trust, 1999.07

Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946)
Quails, ca. 1890
Ink, gray wash heightened with white gouache on paper
William E. Finch, Jr. Archives, Gift of Mrs. Fairchild, 1962

Seton was one of the writers-illustrators who spent time at the Holley House with the painters, writers, publishers, journalists and musicians who frequented the inn.  Seton was a self-taught naturalist. He wrote and illustrated scores of books featuring animal heroes and woodcraft skills.  He lived in Cos Cob and Greenwich from 1900 to 1930 and established a popular boys camp, at his wooded estate, Wyndygoul, in Cos Cob.

The most famous of the students John Henry Twachtman and Julian Alden Weir taught in their 1892 and 1893 summer classes at Cos Cob was Ernest Lawson.  He visited the art colony periodically during the 1890s, and again in 1900 and 1913. While he painted both urban and landscape subjects in New York City, in summer in Cos Cob his focus was limited almost exclusively to landscapes rendered in the Impressionist mode.

Julian Alden Twachtman (1882-1974)
Vaux & Hill 204, early 20th century
Pastel on paper
Gift of Miss Catherine Baldwin Blanke, D210.01

Julian Alden Twachtman was the oldest son of John Henry Twachtman. An artist in his own right, he studied with his father John Henry Twachtman as well as at the Yale School of Fine Arts and the École des Beaux Arts, Paris.

Leon Gambetta Volkmar (1879-1959)
Covered Jar, 1923
Earthenware with Sang de Boeuf glaze, wheel thrown
Museum purchase, 2007.04 a-b

Leon Gambetta Volkmar (1879-1959)
Vase, ca. 1915
Glazed ceramic, wheel thrown
Durant Kiln, Bedford, New York
Gift of John and Henrietta Volkmar, C1971.01.05

Jean Rice, along with her former ceramics teacher Leon Volkmar, founded Durant Kilns. Here Volkmar designed his own kilns and experimented with chemicals and heat leading eventually to the rediscovery of the ancient Chinese, Persian and Egyptian glazes for which he is known. His son recalls that‚ “He used a kick wheel rather than an electric one as he claimed forming delicate pieces was impossible with the electric drive. In later years his varicose veins caused him pain so he had a ‘electric motor’ attached which he used only for centering the piece of clay.” Volkmar visited Greenwich and the Holley House periodically from about 1911. Constant frequently used his vases for her flower arrangements. The Historical Society owns many outstanding examples of his art pottery.

Genjiro Yeto (1867-1924)
Cover and Illustration for Tora’s Happy Day, 1899
Florence Peltier Perry New York: The Alliance Publishing Co.
William E. Finch, Jr. Archives, Holley-MacRae Collection, 1957

Yeto came to the United States in 1890 with the intention of pursuing a career in commerce. In 1895 he enrolled at New York’s Art Students League.The following summer, 1896, he joined Twachtman’s summer class at the Holley House with his close friend Elmer MacRae. Between 1896 and 1901 he spent part of each year at the Holley House. Tora’s Happy Day launched his illustration career. This book was given to Constant before she married Elmer; inscribed on the inside front cover is “Constant Holley, 1899.”