The Kate Unveils New Katharine Hepburn Museum
Old Saybrook’s most famous resident now has a museum fit for her legacy. A brand-new Katharine Hepburn Museum is now open.
The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (The Kate) first opened in 2009 and is a space dedicated to hosting the performance arts as well as honoring Katherine Hepburn, the famous actress who first came to Old Saybrook in the early 1900s as a child and eventually retired there before passing away in 2003. Now, The Kate is ready to open a museum dedicated to the actress.
Director of Development and Community Relations Robin Andreoli explained that The Kate has always had a small museum on site, but that is has been expanded. Andreoli said the impetus for the expansion of the museum came in early 2020 when the Kate received a gift of Hepburn’s possessions from her grandniece.
“We found here was amazing items. There were letters, contracts, old movie artifacts, photos, and even more,” said Andreoli. “These are items that nobody else has.”
The collection also includes wardrobe pieces and home movies.
The Kate then set to work fundraising and received generous donations toward the goal of renovating the space.
Andreoli said the museum now features movies of Hepburn, some with audio and some without.
“As much as possible we wanted her words and her voice,” said Andreoli.
Asked about his favorite part of the new exhibit, Andreoli mentioned a hand-written letter to Santa Claus that Hepburn wrote, complete with a stamp encouraging people to allow women the right to vote.
“We think it’s from when she was five or six, and it makes sense given that her mother was big into the suffragette movement,” said Andreoli.
Altogether, Andreoli estimated that the museum space doubled to around 13,000 square feet after the renovation. The space had a soft opening in late 2021 but had a formal grand opening on June 27.
The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as one hour prior to any show. The museum will add weekend hours later in the summer.
The museum is free to all visitors with a suggested donation of $5. For more information, visit www.katharinehepburntheater.org.