Barnes Museum will unveil new exhibit featuring Leila Upson Barnes paintings

Published on Thursday, 9 September 2021 12:47


SOUTHINGTON – The Barnes Museum will unveil a new exhibit featuring the paintings of Leila Upson Barnes at a Garden Party Sept. 16.

The Garden Party will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. at the historic home and museum at 85 N. Main St.

Christina Volpe, who has succeeded Marie Secondo as museum curator, said that this is the first time The Barnes Museum has provided an in-depth look into Uspon Barnes’ work. Of the 130 paintings in the Barnes Museum collection, Upson Barnes painted approximately 60.

“We have so many artist homes in Connecticut and when I first became curator I didn’t realize that this was another,” said Volpe. “Even though Leila’s art wasn’t widely recognized, because it was made for friends and family members, she’s quite good. Her former studio is still in the attic today.”

Volpe said three boxes of Upson Barnes’ unfinished paintings were recently discovered in the attic studio. They include several landscapes and ocean scenes, including boats and schooners. Many of the paintings depict Upson Barnes’ summer home in Gilford. The exhibit will also have historical background information about Upson Barnes’ instructors, friends and her exploration of the arts.

Born in Southington on Oct. 31, 1884, Leila Holcomb Upson’s family owned a local grocery store located in downtown Southington, formerly on the corner of Main and Center Streets. She was a childhood friend of her future husband, Bradley Barnes, and the great-niece of Southington’s only Connecticut Governor, Marcus Holcomb. She married Barnes in 1910 and came to reside in the home that is now the Barnes Museum. There, she and her husband acquired an appreciation for collecting art and artifacts from around the world which can be seen in the home to this day. Leila Upson Barnes died in 1952 and Bradley Barnes died 1973 at 90 years old. After Bradley Barnes’ death, the home was willed to the town and was preserved as a museum.

The Garden Party will be an outdoor event in the gardens, grounds and parlor of The Barnes Museum. It will include refreshments and a live-paint with local painter Mo Myra. The exhibit, “An Artist’s Legacy: The Art of Leila Upson Barnes” will be viewable after the Garden Party event by scheduling a tour with the museum.

Volpe became the new curator of the museum Aug. 23 formerly worked at The Amistad Center for Art & Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and the Connecticut League of History Organizations. She received a Master’s Degree in Public History at Central Connecticut State University.

Volpe said she is “thrilled” to be the new curator of The Barnes Museum and that she plans to have several more exhibits over the coming year.

For additional information, call the Barnes Museum at 860-628-5426 or email

Posted in The Bristol Press, Southington Herald on Thursday, 9 September 2021 12:47. Updated: Thursday, 9 September 2021 12:49.