The Joy of Lifelong Curiosity and Learning
Updated: Nov 21, 2021
World events, music history, songbird identification, and (of course) the fine arts, are some of the varied topics that lifelong learners pursue right here in town. Old Lyme considers itself lucky to have nonprofits and organizations committed to supporting the ongoing pursuit of knowledge and mastery.
With the vision to serve as "the community's vibrant hub for engagement, discovery and creativity," the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library ("The Phoebe") offers a speaker series, author talks, and workshops throughout the year, including online webinars during pandemic restrictions (a number of organizations listed here brought their programming online). The Phoebe's 2021 Spring lecture series focused on climate change, and you will find book discussions and author talks on the calendar throughout the year.
The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) holds an annual speaker series on issues of foreign policy and international affairs including healthcare policies around the globe, the state of international relations, and the immigrant experience. Current affairs are also considered in the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme's Adult Forum, where speakers present to its members on issues such as carbon offsets and food insecurity.
Other speaker series in town include the Lymes' Senior Center recent American History Lecture Series, and the Old Lyme Historical Society annual Spring Lecture Series, which in 2021 included a look at ceremonial stone work by Native Americans and Connecticut dairy farming.
The Connecticut Audubon Society's new Estuary Center named for Old Lyme resident and renowned ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson has relocated to the riverfront 100 Lyme Street. The RTP Estuary Center offers an array of lectures and tours, including habitat walks and a popular annual swallow murmuration paddle tour. A recent joint webinar with Pollinate Old Lyme! presented an amusing walk through the alphabet of 26 different birds and the native plantings they rely on.
Whether a classical music enthusiast or someone who finds Pinetop Perkins more their style, music appreciation and its history finds a home in Old Lyme. Musical Masterworks, now in its 31st season of providing world-class chamber music, produced a Beethoven lecture series in its last season and finds audiences have an unquenchable thirst for understanding the composers of music performed throughout the concert seasons. Old Lyme's own Blues aficionado, Ramblin' Dan Stevens, captivated his audience with a Blues 101 lecture at the Old Lyme Historical Society, and meanwhile mentors musicians at Nightingale's Acoustic Cafe to create music based on the foundation of the early Blues.
The most prevalent lifelong learning opportunities here revolve around the visual arts. The Lyme Art Association (see top image) offers an array of programming including classes, workshops, lectures, and paint outs. Everything from Oil Painting for Beginners and long-pose figure drawing, to lectures on the Golden Age of Russian art can typically be found on the LAA calendar.
In addition to its intensive Core Program and Portfolio Prep Requisite Program, the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts provides continuing education in the fundamentals of art-making including drawing & painting, sculpture, and printmaking. Artist and Scholar Lectures offer diverse perspectives on important issues in the visual arts and related disciplines.
The Florence Griswold Museum offers curator- and artist-led gallery talks, as well as lectures throughout the year on current exhibitions and the scholarly research related to their curation. Outside group settings, a walk through the art galleries provides a chance to discuss art with a loved one or quietly enjoy reading the informative wall labels in a new exhibition. Docents located in the historic Griswold home share insights and anecdotes of life at Miss Florence's boardinghouse during the artist colony heyday.
In addition to the many lectures, classes, and workshops available, self-guided walking tours provide enrichment with your own timing and pace in mind. Three differently themed walking tours on Lyme Street bring added knowledge of life here in earlier centuries.
Many of these organizations also offer programming and/or summer camps for the younger set, be sure to check each website as well as LYSB to learn more about enrichment programs for our youth.
An added bonus for Connecticut residents, the State waives tuition at state colleges and universities for residents 62 and older. Course credits can be applied to a degree at the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut State University system, and Connecticut's twelve regional community-technical colleges. You can learn more about this incentive on the website of each institution such as UConn. Several private colleges in Connecticut have lifelong learning programs such as the Wesleyan Institute of Lifelong Learning in Middletown, within an easy drive from Old Lyme.