On View Now
The Mark Twain House: Introduction
Location: First Floor, Entrance Hall
Whether it is your first time visiting the Mark Twain House or your 100th, the stunning panels at the entrance to the Museum Center will help prepare you for your house tour. You’ll be introduced to the House and the members of the Clemens family who lived here: Sam, Livy, Clara, Susie, and Jean.
The panels were designed by Joseph Philippon and installed in spring 2020 thanks to a CT Humanities Grant.
LEGO Mark Twain
Location: First Floor, Entrance Hall
Built by LEGO master builders located in Enfield, Connecticut, LEGO Mark Twain stands 6-feet tall and weighs 150-pounds. The sculpture has been welcoming visitors to the Mark Twain House since 2009. Don’t miss your opportunity to take a selfie with the LEGO Mark Twain and be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram at @themarktwainhouse
LEGO Mark Twain is on loan from LEGO Systems Inc.
Mark Twain: I have sampled this life
Location: First Floor, Aetna Gallery
In this gallery, you’ll learn about the life and work of one of the most celebrated authors in American literature, Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain (1835-1910). More than an author, Twain was a journalist, lecturer, entrepreneur, and inventor who was infamous for his complex humor and memorable characters, as well as focusing on societal issues of that time slavery, poverty, and class stratification. Twain wrote his most important works while living at his Hartford home, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1881), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), which helped him acquire the title of one of our nation’s most defining cultural figures. Objects on view include: first editions of Twain’s books, spectacles worn by Twain, and the infamous Paige Compositor.
Image credit: Mark Twain in his New York City apartment, Underwood & Underwood, 1907. MTH&M Gift of Lois Bliss, 1965
Mark Twain Orientation Film by Ken Burns
Location: First Floor, Small Theatre (off Hal Holbrook Hall)
Renowned documentary film-maker Ken Burns created this orientation video for the Mark Twain House in 2001. The 23-minute video is a great introduction to the life of Mark Twain, the Clemens family, and the House itself. The video is run on a loop and can be viewed by any visitor before or after their guided tour of the House.
Copyright: Florentine Films 2001
Script written by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns
Image credit: 4-Hour Mark Twain Documentary by Ken Burns, available through our Museum Shop.
Suffield Elm Bench
Location: Second Floor, Hallway
This bench was fabricated by City Bench of Higganum, CT, from the largest American elm in Connecticut. The tree grew on the Coulter property, a generational farm in Suffield, on which Norm Coulter, 87, still works today. In the fall of 2009, the tree had to be brought down after becoming a hazard in its location. The artisans from City Bench counted 148 growth rings when they examined the tree’s massive trunk. With its wine glass shape and ample shade, the American elm was the tree of choice for American cities and college campuses for generations until the introduction of Dutch elm disease in the 1930’s. City Bench’s mission is three-fold: to create beautiful and sustainable furniture using salvaged urban trees, create an artistic and cultural hub employing local craftspeople; and maintain the vitality of the urban forest.
To learn more about City Bench, and to see other examples of their work, visit the City Bench Website.
Untitled (Mark Twain’s Birth and Death Places)
Oil on cloth paintings by Nick Bontorno, 2009
Gift of Patty and John Pascal, in loving memory of Sophia M. and Joseph R. Pascal
Location: Second Floor, Nook Café
The painter of these two works, Nick Bontorno, served as caretaker of Quarry Farm, the home of Susan and Theodor Crane, sister and brother-in-law of Olivia Clemens, in Elmira, New York. The Clemenses spent their summers at this home during the 1870s and 1880s. The paintings represent Samuel Clemens’s birthplace – a small clapboard farm house in Florida, Missouri – and the home where he died, the impressive Italianate mansion he named “Stormfield” in Redding, Connecticut.
Image credit: Detail of Untitled (Stormfield) painting by Nick Bontorno