Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Person of the Week

Kimberly Keinz: Making The Museum of the Kate Even Better

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In an effort to better showcase the life of Katharine Hepburn, the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (The Kate) is working on a major expansion project. One of the people helping to facilitate that work is Kimberly Keinz. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Keinz

In an effort to better showcase the life of Katharine Hepburn, the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (The Kate) is working on a major expansion project. One of the people helping to facilitate that work is Kimberly Keinz. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Keinz)

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Kim Keinz is a wooden boat aficionado and enjoys traveling with her daughter Savannah Virgili. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Keinz

Kim Keinz is a wooden boat aficionado and enjoys traveling with her daughter Savannah Virgili. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Keinz)

In an effort to better showcase the life of Katharine Hepburn, the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (The Kate) is working on a major expansion project. One of the people helping to facilitate that work is Kimberly Keinz.

Kim is a member of the museum committee at The Kate which is working on the renovations. “It’s an extraordinary renovation. It’s going to have housing for different artifacts. It’s going to be a real tribute to Katharine Hepburn,” Kim says.

Noting the impressive life that Hepburn lived on screen and off, Kim says the renovations that will lead to a larger museum display “will suit her more”.

The impetus for the renovations began in October 2018 when The Kate secured some of Hepburn’s personal items. About a year and a half later Schuyler Grant, Hepburn’s grandniece, contacted The Kate to donate letters from the actress dating to the 1930s. While a grant from Connecticut Humanities to develop a virtual exhibit featuring the letters and many other pieces of memorabilia was secured in 2020, Kim says the physical museum will be even better.

“It’ll make the museum of The Kate even better,” Kim says, adding that it could potentially draw visitors from all over to downtown Old Saybrook.

As of now, the target opening date for the newly renovated museum is the fall of 2022.

“I feel very comfortable that we’re on target for then,” Kim says. The campaign to fund the renovation is nearly complete, but Kim says donations are still graciously accepted.

With the additional square footage, The Kate is hoping to display items from Katharine Hepburn that have been donated. These items include some her personal wardrobe and theater clothes that Kim says can now be displayed to museum standards in the new building. Those standards are something Kim knows a lot about, thanks to a long career working with museums.

Kim graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in museology, an interest she had held for a long time.

“I grew up with a love for antiquity, and I was always at auctions and things like that,” Kim recalls. Though her classes in college were hard and sometimes in obscure subjects, Kim says “I found it fascinating.”

“My favorite aspect of it is taking things like donations and finding more items and figuring out how you’re going to display them,” says Kim.

It was Kim’s interest in museology that actually first brought her to Connecticut. After a career as the director of the Children’s Museum in Utica New York, Kim took a job as the Director of Development and Public Relations at the Connecticut Opera. It was at the Connecticut Opera that Kim actually discovered a skill that would come in very handy during her time on the committee at the Kate. “I enjoyed it and I found I had a knack for attracting people and getting them to donate,” Kim says.

As a result, Kim says she can look back fondly at fundraising opportunities where she was able to get substantial donations for whatever she was working on. Currently, Kim no longer works in the museum field professionally, as she’s the senior vice president of business development for a global software development company. Though it’s different than her previous jobs, it’s something she nonetheless still enjoys.

“It’s a very cool job, I really like it,” she adds. One of the perks of the job is that it’s nearly all remote so the time she saves on the commute can be spent on the museum committee.

Kim’s journey to The Kate is one that began with an accident. One day Kim was boating when, as fate would have it, the boat broke down in Old Saybrook, a town she had never been to before. After finding out that the boat wouldn’t be fixed for a few days, Kim says “we decided to tie up and explore Old Saybrook. I fell in love immediately and bought a house here two weeks later.” Kim has now been an old Saybrook resident for 32 years.

One day about a year and a half ago Kim was chatting with her neighbor Ruth, who mentioned the museum was looking for volunteers to help withe the expansion. Kim, who says she’s long been a fan of The Kate, eventually got in touch with the people putting together the museum committee and with her background they quickly approved of her.

“It’s been a good collaboration from engineers to designers to me and my museology background. We work well together,” says Kim. “I like being a part of The Kate and all it brings to Old Saybrook.”

As a longtime resident of town, Kim can remember the times she actually ran into Hepburn before the actress passed away in 2003.

“Katharine Hepburn was my idol. She was always someone I identified with,” Kim says, in particular mentioning an appreciation for how independent Hepburn was. Of her work on the museum renovations at the Kate Kim says “It’s like carrying on a tribute to her.”

In her spare time, Kim says she likes entertaining people at her home, people watching, and spending time in her fighting chair, the chair boaters use when fishing for large fish, which she had installed on her porch. She is also a wooden boat aficionado and enjoys traveling with her daughter Savannah Virgili.


Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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