“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world, For I would ride with you upon the wind...”
William Butler Yeats would have drawn much inspiration for his 1894 play, The Land of Heart’s Desire, had he strolled through Faerieville U.S.A.: In and Around a Wee Faerie Town at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme.
The annual faerie house event at the museum has become a tradition, and one that is eagerly anticipated by visitors and staff alike. “We realized that this was something the people really looked forward to every year,” says Cheryl Poirier, a marketing associate for the museum. “We even see extended families make it an annual tradition to travel and meet here.”
The theme for this year’s event will be an entire tiny town of faerie dwellings and businesses, charmingly scattered throughout the beautiful gardens and grounds so loved by “Miss Florence.” From Sept. 30 through Oct. 29, visitors will see more than 30 architectural works by artists from near and far.
Everything a faerie could possibly need in day-to-day life makes up this adorable village: a public library, museum, flower shop, farmer’s market, auto repair shop, pharmacy, hardware store, church, school, hotel, and so much more. Visitors receive a map of the village to guide them, and each faerie house has a puzzle question, much like a scavenger hunt. “Can you find the...?”
“This is a wonderful way to introduce children to a museum setting,” says Poirier. “Part of the admission to the faerie village includes general admission to the museum. While here, you can also go into the galleries and the historic boardinghouse. “Both have scavenger hunts and ways of engaging children.”
The faerie house artists are by invitation only, chosen by David Rau, originator of the event and director of education at the museum. Rau develops a new theme and related programming for each year’s village.
Dave Graybill, a local artist, visited the event for years with his two young sons, and was thrilled to be invited to participate. His contribution to Faerieville U.S.A. is the Wee Faerie Automotive Repair Shop, a natural choice based on his family’s business, All Pro Automotive, in Old Lyme. “I was actually thinking of steering away from an auto-based theme, because I thought it would be expected since I’m in the business,” he says, then smiles. “But I realized I could create some pretty cool ideas incorporating natural elements mixed with automobile parts.”
Graybill’s background lends itself to this artistic endeavor. He studied at the Art Institute of Boston for Fine Arts, Oil, and Acrylic Painting, and he loves doing anything creative. Last year, his installation in the faerie house event was a Nordic Viking Faerie Boat.
The event started in 2009 as an idea to have an October happening of some sort that was family-friendly and would entice people to come and enjoy the museum grounds. The first year was a faerie house trail. Poirier smiles and shakes her head. “We didn’t know if it would succeed or not, and it was just beyond anyone’s expectations for the number of visitors that came.”
The following year featured scarecrows, and the next year was birdhouses. to “We came back to faerie houses because they provided the most magical experience, especially for families and children,” says Poirier.
In addition to following the map and enjoying each creation, visitors are encouraged to make their own faerie houses. In a shady, wooded area off to the side of the property, visitors can design their own faerie houses of twigs, branches, leaves, and acorns.
Each faerie dwelling will captivate audiences of all ages; delight, educate, and inspire. Bring your imagination to Faerieville U.S.A.
Florence Griswold Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT. For more information, call 860-434-5542 or visit FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org.