Western Connecticut visitors will have a rare chance to learn insiders' secrets of what it takes for a successful restoration at National Park Service "Sneak Peek" guided tours of the restoration in progress at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton. The free Art of Restoration tours will be offered on four Sundays, January 16, February 20, March 20 and April 17 from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
One of only two National Historic Sites devoted to art, the picturesque grounds, home and studio currently under restoration were home to three generations of American artists. Julian Alden Weir, a leading figure in American art and the development of American Impressionism, acquired the farm in 1882, and transformed his summer retreat into a creative refuge for friends and fellow artists. Weir's legacy was continued by his daughter, painter Dorothy Weir Young and her husband, sculptor Mahonri Young, followed by New England painters Sperry and Doris Andrews.
Today, the 60-acre farm, which includes the Weir House, Weir and Young Studios, barns, gardens, and Weir Pond, is one of the nation's finest remaining landscapes of American art. Those who join the Park Rangers conducting Art of Restoration tours will get a behind-the-scenes look at the work-in-progress and will learn about the farm's enduring traditions.
The restoration seeks not only to restore the structures with historic accuracy, but to continue the effort already in place to recreate the spirit of the site. Even in winter, artists of all ages and abilities are invited to create art en plein air (outdoors), as artists have done at the farm for over 125 years. The site is open Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (weather permitting), for sketching on the grounds, with graphite pencils, colored pencils, or chalk pastels provided free of charge. Beginning in April, a professional artist will be on hand to give tips.
Sunday Art of Restoration tours are free, but space is limited and registration is required. To register, phone (203) 834-1896, ext. 13.