Katharine Hepburn first came to the town of Old Saybrook in 1912 when she was five and a half years old. Her family’s summer house here, in the borough of Fenwick, became her refuge from the demands of her career. She called it “paradise” and it was to this paradise she would retire in 1997. Fittingly, she also died here in 2003, the same year the Town of Old Saybrook voted to restore the old Town Hall. Two years later, Miss Hepburn’s family granted the Town the right to name the renovated building in her honor.
Located on the first floor of the Kate, the Katharine Hepburn Museum presents an authentic view of the cultural and historical impact of Miss Hepburn and her family. In addition to many photographs from her life and career, the exhibits feature her 1975 Primetime Emmy Award, examples of letters written to her family during the early years of her career, costume and personal wardrobe pieces, and a self-portrait painting.
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm; also opens one hour prior to performances.
Additional summer hours: Saturday and Sunday, 12 pm to 4 pm during July and August only.
Admission is free, however, a suggested donation of $5 per visitor supports the care and preservation of the collection and museum programs. The Museum is handicap accessible.
If you wish to book a guided tour or bring a group of 10 or more to the Museum, please contact the Museum Coordinator at email@example.com or 860-510-0473.
Special Temporary Exhibit: Costuming Kate
Featuring three film-worn costumes on loan from Hollywood costume collector and archivist John Davey.
This special exhibit includes pieces from the films ADAM’S RIB, DESK SET, and STATE OF THE UNION created specifically for Katharine Hepburn by three noted Hollywood studio designers.
On exhibit through May 18, 2023
Monday, May 22, 2023 at 7 pm – MUSEUM TALK
Hepburn/Thompson: Game On
On Golden Pond, On Broadway, On a Life Well-lived
Academy Award winning author and playwright Ernest Thompson, writer of ON GOLDEN POND and WEST SIDE WALTZ, reminisces about making the film with Miss Hepburn and their collaboration on the Broadway production of his play. Plus, The Importance of Being Kate and Ernest, a special temporary exhibit highlighting their collaborations opens that evening and features original costumes, artifacts, and memorabilia associated with these productions.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see this classic Kate film AND an original costume piece in person!
Tuesday, May 30, 2023 at 2 pm and 7 pm
Kate Classic Film Series: THE AFRICAN QUEEN – on the Kate’s Big Screen!
Consider a Gargano Pasta & Italian Market lunch package for the matinee
Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at 7 pm – MUSEUM TALK
The Hurricane of 1938: The Science and The Stories
On September 21, 1938, a massive hurricane tore through New England leaving in its path a shocking swath of destruction and lost lives. The Hepburn family’s original cottage in Fenwick, a borough of Old Saybrook, was completely destroyed and washed away. This special program explores the impact of the storm from inception to landfall. NBC 30 Chief Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan will present the science of the storm and its path toward New England; Chris Wisniewski, author of The Hurricane of 1938: Memories of the Storm of the Century, shares memories from survivors; and writer Tom Verde speaks of his family’s tragic loss. This program is presented by Risk Strategies – Gowrie Group.
Tuesday, June 13, 2023 at 2 pm and 7 pm
Kate Classic Film Series: SYLVIA SCARLETT – on the Kate’s Big Screen!
Thursday, June 15, 2023 at 1 pm
Hollywood Gems Film Series: NORTH BY NORTHWEST – on the Kate’s Big Screen!
Become a Kate Enthusiast!
Join fellow fans in sustaining Miss Hepburn’s legacy with an annual gift of $50 to support the preservation of the collection and Museum programs. Your status as a Kate Enthusiast will provide:
- Premiere Access to Museum content – be the first to know about additions to the collection and receive invitations to exclusive in-person and virtual programs.
- Free admission to select Museum programs.
- Annual Special Gift – this year’s gift is a Kate keychain!
- A 10% discount on all purchases at the Museum Gift Shop (taxes and shipping and handling fees excluded).
- Receive quarterly Kate Enthusiast e-newsletters.
- Recognition in the Kate’s Annual Report as a Kate Enthusiast
You’ll receive a welcome packet with Kate Enthusiast card and gift by mail.
Virtual Exhibit (with added scenes!) Now Streaming!
The Kate is pleased to present the virtual exhibit, Katharine Hepburn: Unintentional Trailblazer. Through Kate’s own words, via narration from her autobiography and letters written to her family, plus items from our collection you’ll explore different facets of Katharine Hepburn’s life and cultural impact. Keep in mind that this is not a chronological documentary of the great Kate but an online exhibit. We encourage you to view it as you would a traditional exhibit – pause to reread captions, rewind to see particular pieces again, and continue to revisit it over and over.
Tell us what you think! Complete this brief survey to review the online exhibit and offer suggestions for future programs.
The project is funded in part by a grant from Connecticut Humanities. The Kate is grateful to Katharine Houghton, Cynthia McFadden, and the Hepburn estate for providing access to special materials, and to Wayne and Barbara Harms for their generous support toward this project.
Also available to view…
Katharine Hepburn: IMAGE IS EVERYTHING
An in-depth discussion and analysis of Katharine Hepburn’s grasp on the power of her appearance hosted by Ann Nyberg with Jean Druesedow and Judy Samelson.
Katharine Hepburn: LEGEND, HEROINE, AND YANKEE ECCENTRIC
MUSEUM EXPANSION CAMPAIGN
THANK YOU to all who supported the 2021 Katharine Hepburn Museum Campaign! We are grateful to Sonny and Christine Whelen for presenting a challenge match and the significant support from the Louis F. and Mary A. Tagliatela Family Foundation, the Munn Family Foundation, the Scoville Family Charitable Fund, and the hundreds of donors who so generously donated to this effort to preserve Miss Hepburn’s legacy.
CT Summer at the Museum is Supported by Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of the Arts in partnership with Connecticut Humanities with funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act as allocated by the state legislature.