Current Exhibits

Opened in 2003, The Webster Bank Museum Center at The Mark Twain House & Museum offers visitors an opportunity to learn more about Mark Twain, his family, the historic house, and the author's legacy. This state-of-the-art facility houses our ticket desk; the Aetna Gallery with a permanent exhibition on Twain's life and work; a rotating exhibition hall, The Hartford Financial Services Theatre, showing a Ken Burns mini-documentary on Twain; classroom space; the lecture hall-style Lincoln Financial Auditorium; The Mark Twain Store; entertaining spaces like the soaring Hal Holbrook and the sunny second floor café/patio area.

In addition, the Museum Center houses our research library, which is open by appointment only. Featuring walls etched with some of his most famous quotations, this LEED-certified green museum is a treasure-filled way to begin and end your visit to The Mark Twain House.


TRAVEL IS FATAL TO PREJUDICE EXHIBITION

Travel

"Travel is fatal to prejudice," Mark Twain wrote in his great, funny travel book, The Innocents Abroad. The many journeys he took throughout his life didn't shake all the prejudice out of him, but they shook him up all the same.

A new exhibit -- "Travel Is Fatal to Prejudice: Mark Twain's Journeys Abroad" -- at The Mark Twain House & Museum includes rare artifacts, some from the museum's own collection and others loaned by other museums and archives.

These include an Ottoman Turkish costume worn by a fellow traveler on one trip; a tiny stone sculpture believed to have been picked up by Twain on a moonlit visit to the Parthenon; Twain first editions; rare manuscript letters highlighting funny and moving events, and -- perhaps the highlight of the show -- a miniature portrait of Olivia Langdon reputedly shown to Twain during a voyage by her brother, a fellow passenger. The portrait, Twain said, led him to fall in love with her at first sight, and, eventually, to marry her.

Another significant rarity is on loan from Bermuda's Masterworks Museum -- a stunning seascape by Winslow Homer portraying the S.S. Trinidad, one of the ships that plied the New York-Bermuda route during the period, late in his life, when Twain found refuge and solace on that island.

There's more: Visitors to the exhibit can stand on (and take selfies on) three unusual three-dimensional sets created by the production staff at Hartford's famed Theaterworks company: a ship's deck, an Alpine trail and a market in India -- each representing one of the three great books that came out of his journeys.

The three great journeys featured in the exhibitions, each of which led to a major travel book by Twain, include:

1. His 1867 journey to Europe and the Holy Land, when he was a brash young reporter sending stories back to his San Francisco newspaper making fun of sophisticated Europeans and innocent Americans alike. The book that came out of this -- The Innocents Abroad -- remained his most popular work of all during his lifetime, far outpacing both Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

2. His visit to Germany, the Swiss Alps and Italy in 1878-79 - a journey intended in part as a vast shopping trip for the Clemens family's new Hartford house - and as fodder for a second travel book, A Tramp Abroad. Along with his wife and daughters, Twain's close Hartford friend, the Rev. Joseph Twichell, accompanied him, took off with him along Alpine trails, and became a character in the book.

3. And then, a very different journey - a round-the-world trip in 1895-96. Financially stricken, Twain embarked on this expedition to recoup a lost fortune through lectures, writing, and finally by the book that came out of it all: Following the Equator. The trip took him and his wife Livy to Australia, India and South Africa. A terrible family tragedy toward the end of this trip made the writing of the book particularly difficult and poignant.

Finally, with Homer's S.S. Trinidad and other artifacts and illustrations, the exhibition will focus on Twain's last years and his visits to Bermuda, a place he called "the Isles of the Blest" and "the right place for a jaded man to loaf in."

Sponsors include the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts; The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company; United Technologies; and the Greater Hartford Arts Council's United Arts Campaign.

Institutions loaning items include The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, Missouri; the Cornell University Historic Costume Collection in Ithaca, New York; the Mark Twain Papers & Project at the University of California, Berkeley; the Mark Twain Library in Redding, Connecticut; the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art; Kevin Mac Donnell of Austin, Texas; and other private collections.

"'Travel Is Fatal to Prejudice': Mark Twain's Journeys Abroad" is open during regular museum hours. A $6.00 fee permits visitors not touring the house to visit the museum's exhibits. "Travel Is Fatal to Prejudice" is curated by Mallory Howard, Interim Chief Curator at The Mark Twain House & Museum; Guest Curator Dr. Kerry A. Driscoll of the University of St. Joseph; and author and journalist Steve Courtney. The exhibit will run through January 26, 2016.

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Twain Store

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