September 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Art, Hampden County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: art education, Art Exhibit, Art History, ceramics, history education, potter, pottery
Ceramics Exhibition Explores Craftsmanship Over 6,000 Years
At Mount Holyoke College Art Museum through May 31, 2015
A wonderful example of ceramics as an “objets d’art.”
Have you ever taken a ceramics class? The feeling of the clay molding into recognizable shapes like bowls and plates is so satisfying, matched only by the feeling of accomplishment once the piece has been fired and glazed and is ready to be used. The creation—and usage—of functional objects has been part of the human experience for as long as humans have existed, and the ways in which these objects are made and regarded has evolved over time. From the purely practical and utilitarian to veritable objets d’art, ceramics have served a wide range of people in an even wider range of ways. And as the world’s peoples grew, developed, and traveled, so did their tools and artwork; this allowed for further dispersion and interchange of ideas and techniques. Read the rest of this entry »
August 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Berkshire County, MASS MoCA, Museum)
Tags: Art Exhibit, avian history, extinct species, Mass MoCA, passenger pigeon, pigeon, video installation
Video Installation Commemorates a Species’ Centennial of Extinction at MASS MoCA through Spring 2015
When you think about pigeons, what immediately comes to mind? Chances are, you’re remembering an encounter with a rock pigeon–a gray bird with black stripes on its wings, often spotted pecking at the sidewalks or perched on architectural features in urban areas. These birds are so eponymous with the word “pigeon,” and so closely associated with cities like Boston and New York, that it may surprise you to learn that this particular breed of pigeon is actually native to Europe – and that, long before the rock pigeon arrived in North America, a native breed called the passenger pigeon dominated the skies. Prior to the 20th century, this one breed was so populous – estimated at between three and five million – that they represented more than one-quarter of all the birds in North America. They lived and traveled in enormous flocks: their numbers were so great that a migrating flock could darken the sky, concealing the sun, for several hours at a time. By the end of 1914, however, the breed had become entirely extinct.
“I was so moved by this exhibit, and my daughter was fascinated!” – Sarah Rankin (Hilltown Families reader)
Eclipse, a new multimedia exhibition at MASS MoCA, explores the phenomenon of species extinction through the history of the passenger pigeon, a century after the death of the last known bird. On view through spring 2015, the exhibition is comprised of an immersive video and audio installation in the four-story “lightwell” at the center of the MASS MoCA complex. Read the rest of this entry »
July 2, 2014 at 3:00 pm (History, Museum)
Tags: Bucket Town, buckettown, buried treasure, cooper, Exhibit, history education, toy maker
Artifacts from a Historical “Time Capsule” Revealed at Old Sturbridge Village
Ongoing through Sunday, January 18, 2015
Hingham, Massachusetts., known as “Bucket Town” due to its prominence in the early New England coopering industry, was also the home of the first and largest community of professional toymakers in America.
Now through mid-January 2015, visitors to Old Sturbridge Village will have the opportunity to view artifacts from a recently-excavated workshop on the Hersey Family Farm in Hingham, MA. The workshop spent a century undetected, hidden under vines on the historical farm property, before being discovered in 2008. It had inadvertently become a time capsule, capturing the scene of an early twentieth century New England woodenware and toymaker’s workshop and lying undisturbed for decades.
The exhibit, Bucket Town: Four Centuries of Toymaking and Coopering in Hingham, is on view at Old Sturbridge Village’s Visitor Center Gallery for the next six months. It contains objects from the Hersey Shop that have never before been seen by the public – an intriguing collection of tools, personal artifacts, and exquisite handicrafts – in addition to a generous selection of handcrafted toys and woodenware made by Hingham-based toymakers and coopers.
Read the rest of this entry »
June 3, 2014 at 6:00 pm (Community Based Education, Hampshire County, Museum, Poetry, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Emily Dickinson, Emily Dickinson Museum, History, Language Arts, Literature, Pioneer Valley, Poetry
Garden Days at Emily Dickinson Museum welcomes families to explore and connect with the story and legacy of poet Emily Dickinson and her family
Next week, garden-loving families can get some historic dirt underneath their fingernails at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA. The museum’s annual Garden Days will be held this year from June 8th through 11th, and brings with them ample opportunities to learn, grow, and honor Emily Dickinson’s love of gardening – all while helping to maintain the museum’s beautiful and historic grounds.
To kick off Garden Days, the Emily Dickinson Museum will hold Family Day on Saturday, June 8th from 1-4pm. Gardeners and plant enthusiasts of all ages and abilities are welcome at the museum, and there will be a plethora of gardening activities that anyone can easily participate in. Additionally, Family Day will include a special kid-friendly garden tour at 1:30pm, as well as a historic garden tour (better for older students) at 2:30pm, which will be lead by Marta McDowell, author of Emily Dickinson’s Gardens: A Celebration of a Poet and Gardener.
After learning about the gardens and helping out with some projects around the museum’s grounds, families can take Emily Dickinson’s love of gardening home with them – supplies will be available for beginning your very own herbarium, which Emily herself did as a child. Read the rest of this entry »
March 31, 2014 at 2:00 pm (Community Based Education, Franklin County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: American Craftsman, American History, Arts & Crafts Movement, Arts and Crafts Movement, gender studies, Hipster Culture, History, Pocumtuck Basket Makers, Women's Studies
Early Twentieth Century Craftwork and Artisans Featured at Historic Deerfield
Sarah Cowles (1845-1922), a member of the Pocumtuck Basket Makers, wove an image of Deerfield’s iconic c. 1699 Old Indian House in her basket. Cowles was one of a number of women who was swept up by the William Morris craze for making handmade goods. Founded in 1902 by Madeline Yale Wynne, the group made baskets principally of raffia, a product of Madagascar, and used natural dyes to color their work. Wynne chose the name Pocumtuck to reference the Native Americans who first lived in Deerfield.
The early 1900s sparked a renewed interest in the materials and craftsmanship roughly associated with the colonial period in the United States. Known in the US as the “American Craftsman” school of thought or as the “Arts & Crafts Movement,” this interest in traditional methods, materials, and styles of craftwork was part of an international design revolution against the mass-production that new industry and machinery had made possible. The movement, which began in the British Isles in the late 1890s, was initially a socialist rejection of the mechanized, assembly-line-style work that had all but eliminated the creativity and skill that craftsmen (and women) had demonstrated prior to the rise of industry. By elevating the aesthetic significance of these unique, unassuming, artisan-made objects, the Arts & Crafts movement created a new niche for craftworkers and pushed back against the increasing sense of excess in the design world. Ironically, these humble objects inspired by craftsmen of old were not accessible to everyone. Because the materials, time, and skill needed to create high-quality, authentic arts & crafts objects were harder to come by than what the factories produced, each object was competitively priced.
Artists in New England were particularly drawn to the resurgence of traditional handicrafts, and many joined the arts and crafts community that had sprung up in Deerfield. These artists – ranging from metalsmiths, potters, and furniture makers, to photographers, embroiderers, and basket makers – were heavily inspired by the history of the Deerfield area, and incorporated references to the town’s history in their work. Several Deerfield artists even achieved national recognition for their crafts. It is these artists and their work that Historic Deerfield celebrates in their current exhibition, “A Community of Craftwork,” on view now through February 2015. Read the rest of this entry »
March 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Hampden County, Museum, Springfield, Springfield Museum)
Tags: Art, Bruce Rosenbaum, Steampunk, Steampunk Springfield
Unique Subculture Links
Visual Art and Design with Industrial History
March 22 – September 28, 2014
In conjunction with several other local institutions, this spring the Springfield Museums will be hosting, “Steampunk Springfield: Reinventing an Industrial City.” This series of exhibits and events explores the cross-disciplinary subculture and literary genre known as “Steampunk.”
What is Steampunk? Steampunk is expressed primarily through fashion, two- and three-dimensional art, and fantasy writing, with an emphasis on science fiction, historical fiction, and horror stories a la Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells. Steampunk is a genre of alternate history, in which historical events, people, and places are reimagined, frequently in post-apocalyptic scenarios or the American “Wild” West, as well as in the Victorian era. Steampunk seeks to answer the question: “What would the world be like if the steam-powered mechanical technology of the Victorian era was incorporated into current technology and all other aspects of human life today?” The Springfield Museums’ response to this question, as presented by guest curator and well-known Steampunk artist, Bruce Rosenbaum, is a truly unique contribution to the genre.
For the past few months, Rosenbaum – dubbed the “Evangelist of Steampunk” by Wired Magazine – has collaborated with members of the Springfield Museums’ curatorial staff to reinterpret the Victorian-era items in both the art museum and the history museum through the lens of Steampunk iconography and mythology. Read the rest of this entry »
March 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Hampshire County, History, Museum)
Tags: folk stories, folks songs, History, Holyoke, Immigration, music culture, Pioneer Valley, Storytelling, Wistariahurst Museum
Wistariahurst Museum is launching a new historical and cultural project entitled, Legacy of Music, People and Place: Holyoke 1800 – 1950. With funding support from the Holyoke Cultural Council and the Country Dance and Song Society, Jacqueline Cooper is collaborating with the museum as the Project Director and is working to develop sketches of Holyoke’s past to form a collective of local music culture from 1800-1950.
Cooper and Wistariahurst are seeking to include community members of Holyoke and nearby towns to participate by sharing personal music-related memories. They are looking for community members, elders, descendants of earlier settlers, immigrants, and travelers who can share stories or family anecdotes related to particular songs that were listened to, played, sung, danced to and enjoyed in households, factories, at gatherings, or in clubs, churches, community centers, etc. They are looking for stories that not only represent local culture, but also reflect what working people at the heart of the community thrived on.
Do you, your parents, your grandparents, have a memory to share? Being interviewed for this project is an inspiring opportunity to have a music-related memory as part of Holyoke’s cultural heritage collection. The research is the foundation for Legacy of Music, People and Place: Holyoke 1800 – 1950, a live music and storytelling production to be performed at Wistariahurst in July of 2014.
Click here to find out how to participate…
March 11, 2014 at 9:00 am (Art, Eric Carle Museum, Hampshire County, Museum)
Tags: Bernard Waber, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
The Carle Commemorates Life and Works
of Author/Illustrator, Bernard Waber
Tuesday, March 18 through Sunday, June 8, 2014
Last May, children and adults alike mourned the passing of beloved children’s book author and illustrator Bernard Waber. Perhaps best known for his depictions of the adventures of Lyle the crocodile, Waber wrote, illustrated, and published (through Houghton Mifflin) over thirty books over the course of his career.
This spring, Houghton Mifflin and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art have collaborated to put on a display of Waber’s work: both well-known images from his books, plus preliminary sketches and source material and even some of his earlier art from his time as a designer for Condé Nast and Time, Inc. Curated by Leonard S. Marcus, an expert on children’s literature, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile and Friends: The Art of Bernard Waber will be on view from March 18 through June 8, 2014. The exhibition will be accompanied by a 40-page catalog featuring Bernard Waber’s last interview… Read the rest of this entry »
March 3, 2014 at 9:00 am (Hilltown Families, History, Holyoke, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Art, domestic servants, Labor History, textile mill workers, tobacco farmers
A Textile Artist’s Take on Local Labor History
Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA
March and April 2014
Western MA native, Deborah Baronas, has an exhibit at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, now through April 2014. Baronas will show a body of work that examines the lives of 19th century laborers, highlighting the work of textile mill workers, domestic servants, and tobacco farm field hands. This exhibit is more than an art show; it immerses viewers in history and can be used as an educational tool to recreate the past and delve into the lives and experiences of 19th-century working-class laborers.
Artist Deborah Baronas grew up on a farm in western Massachusetts, encouraged to pursue her interest in art when she wasn’t helping her parents in the fields. Years later, with a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and many years of experience in textile design, she has begun to explore the dichotomy that has defined her life – that of a “gritty work culture” versus the “world of glamour” – and the “duality [of] manufacturing and production,” through her art.
In an upcoming exhibition at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA, Baronas will show a body of work that examines the lives of 19th century laborers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The exhibition highlights the work of textile mill workers, domestic servants, and tobacco farm field hands through hand-stenciled and screen-printed images on the strong, coarse fabric known as “scrim,” as well as paintings, historical artifacts, and other materials. This exhibit is more than an art show; it immerses viewers in history and can be used as an educational tool to recreate the past and delve into the lives and experiences of 19th-century working-class laborers.
“We are always in a state of having lived in the past, residing in the present and looking to the future. We mark the passage of time by examining our presence in the present,” says Baronas. For her, the creation of these pieces – these juxtapositions of her adult work as a textile designer with her younger work as a painter and farmhand – illustrate her own past, present, and future, as well as the past, present, and future of the workers who populated the mills and farms in the Pioneer Valley a century earlier.
Click here to see discussion questions related to the exhibit…
February 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm (Hampden County, Hilltown Families, History, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Happy Valley, Historical Trades, History, Pioneer Valley, western massachusetts, Wistariahurst Museum
Made in the Happy Valley
A Historical Lecture Series at Wistariahurst Museum
Wistariahurst Museum presents a Historical Lecture Series: Made in the Happy Valley, Feb 24-May 19, 2014. This series of Monday evening lectures focuses on industrial and handcrafted material culture that historically took place in the Pioneer Valley, or that is currently taking place. All lectures are held Monday nights in the Carriage House at 6pm.
The Pioneer Valley is home to an abundance of artists, writers, craftsmen, artisans, and tradesmen of all types – a fact that has long been true about the area. Ever since the first European settlers made their home in the Valley hundreds of years ago, the presence of a wide variety of craftsmen and artisans within the community has helped to shape local culture. Creativity – and its expression – is significant in the Pioneer Valley today, and has been throughout its history.
This late winter and spring, families have an opportunity to learn about many things locally handmade (past and present!) thanks to the Wistariahurst Museum’s 2014 Spring Historical Lecture Series, Made in the Happy Valley. Held on Monday evenings at 6pm (beginning on February 24th) in the museum’s Carriage House, the lectures will offer useful information and local history surrounding everything from letterpress printing to the Holyoke merry-go-round, custom footwear to child labor in milltowns.
The first event in the series, titled Life of a Mill Hand, will focus on an Irish family living in Holyoke during the Civil War… Read the rest of this entry »
February 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Amherst, Hampshire County, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Community Based Education, Mead Art Museum, Museum, Museum Based Education, Museums
Family Fun Days at the Mead Art Museum in Amherst
“Family Fun Days have been so popular in the past, we decided to make them even more frequent,” noted Wendy Somes, Coordinator of Community Programs. The increase is part of the Mead’s ongoing mission to connect families, teachers, and community organizations with their local art museum, she said. “We believe that museums are educational AND fun places for families to learn together.”
When we think of places in our community we can visit to support our children’s interests and education, museums are often the first institutions we think of… and rightly so! Their exhibit-filled galleries offer lots of educational potential, with both permanent and changing exhibits families can use to learn about a variety of topics throughout the year. However, without interpretation or support, the vast amount of information present in museum exhibits can be difficult to navigate and make accessible for children with little background knowledge.
Keeping this in mind, the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA, is now offering monthly Family Fun Days, making museum-based learning not only more accessible for families with younger children, but a whole lot of fun too! Family Fun Days aren’t new to the Museum, but their popularity has encouraged the Museum to host them as a monthly event! Each month brings a new theme that matches an exhibit hanging in the museum’s galleries, and families will get a chance to learn about the theme through hands-on activities, guided gallery tours, read-alouds of children’s books, and group discussions. Not only will the educational potential of the museum be unlocked by museum guides and interpreters, but children will be able to learn in a collaborative, multi-age environment where they share their thoughts and observations with others and gain insight from information shared by other visitors.
February’s Family Fun Day will be held on Saturday, February 15th from 11am-2pm – and admission is free! This month’s theme is feasts and medieval life, and will include a kid-friendly tour of the museum’s Rotherwas Room. Read the rest of this entry »
December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm (Art, Berkshire Museum, Hilltown Families, Museum)
Tags: Art Exhibit, Norman Rockwell Museum, Ruth Sanderson
Norman Rockwell Museum Presents “Dancing Princesses: The Picture Book Art of Ruth Sanderson”
Saturday, December 7, 2013 – Sunday, March 9, 2014
One of the special holiday displays in the Norman Rockwell Museum’s “Distinguished Illustrator Series” this winter will feature over 60 works by noted picture book illustrator Ruth Sanderson. Described as “beautiful” and “jewel-like,” by NRM director, Laurie Norton Moffatt, the works on display include original paintings and drawings by Sanderson, in addition to costumes that the artist commissioned to correspond with her illustrations. The subjects of these works hail from a selection of Sanderson’s beloved books – some classic tales re-told, some original tales, and each one embellished with enchanting imagery – including The Twelve Dancing Princesses; The Sleeping Beauty; Cinderella; The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring; and several others…
Read the rest of this entry »
November 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Contest, Hilltown Families, MASS MoCA, Suggested Activity, Video)
Tags: Berkshires, Western Massachuestts
Win a family 4-pack of free tickets & museum passes to see…
A Family Concert at MASS MoCA
Saturday, November 23rd
Win a family 4-pack of free tickets & museum passes to see Grammy-nominate Milkshake in concert at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA, on Saturday, November 23rd at 11:30am. Deadline to enter to win: Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 at 11:59pm (EST).
Hilltown Families and MASS MoCA (North Adams, MA) have partnered up to offer a family 4-pack of free tickets and museum passes to one very lucky family to see the Grammy-nominated band, Milkshake, live at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Saturday, November 23rd at 11:30am! Find out how you can enter to win below:
Milkshake began in 2002 as a musical experiment on the part of vocalist Lisa Mathews and guitarist Mikel Gehl , longtime bandmates from Baltimore’s indie rock group Love Riot, who vowed to “grow” their music right along with their own young children. Since then, Milkshake and the band’s legion of fans have been living an exciting, real life, growing up adventure, moving from early childhood through the early elementary years, as the group toured the country and produced several multi-award-winning CDs, a DVD, and a multitude of music videos seen all over the kid-friendly networks. Along the way, as the kids grew and the music grew with them, Milkshake grew from a duo to a six-piece band.
Known for their pop-rock style that fairly crackles with energy, Milkshake indeed has a following of all ages…
Read the rest of this entry »
November 12, 2013 at 9:00 am (Hampden County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Springfield Museum)
Tags: Antique Toys, Cast-iron toys, Springfield Museums
Peek Inside Santa’s Sack at the Springfield Museums
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 through Sunday, January 5, 2014
For a fun challenge at the exhibition, discuss with your children the production methods used for cast-iron toys, and see if you can spot the hammered steel pins connecting the left and right halves of the toys! This can serve as both a history lesson and a lesson in engineering and fabrication.
The Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts at the Springfield Museums ushers in the holiday season with a showcase of vintage cast iron toys. The exhibition, titled “A Peek Inside Santa’s Sack,” features rare cast iron collectibles such as fire trucks, horse-drawn carriages and emergency vehicles, airplanes, toy trains and miniature wood and coal stoves – predecessors to the classic HESS trucks of the past fifty years – and tells the story of the three most popular toy-makers of the period.
Cast-iron toys were common between the 1870s and the 1940s because the molds in which they were made could be reused thousands of times, making the mass production of these metal toys an efficient and profitable endeavor…
November 5, 2013 at 8:00 am (Art, Berkshire County, Hilltown Families, History, Museum, Suggested Activity, Western MA Events, Western Massachusetts Events)
Tags: History, Illustrator, Norman Rockwell, Norman Rockwell Museum, Picture Books, Wendell Minor
Exhibition Celebrates 25 Years of Work by Historical Picture Book Illustrator Wendell Minor
Saturday, November 9, 2013 – Monday, May 26, 2014
Image credit: Wendell Minor, “Abraham Lincoln Comes Home,” 2008. Cover illustration for “Abraham Lincoln Comes Home” by Robert Burleigh, Henry Holt and Co. Watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©Wendell Minor. All rights reserved.
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, invites families to “Wendell Minor’s America,” a special exhibition featuring more than 150 original artworks, artifacts, and references from illustrator Wendell Minor’s distinguished portfolio.
The award-winning illustrator drew his way through childhood in Aurora, Illinois, inspired by the richly illustrated magazines that were so much a part of American life during the mid-twentieth century. The exhibition celebrates his many cover illustrations and his 25th anniversary illustrating children’s books, each of which has been inspired by Minor’s love of history, art, science, and the natural world…
September 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Community Based Education, Hampshire County, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Historic Deerfield, Museums, Pioneer Valley, The Beneski Museum of Natural History, The Emily Dickinson Museum, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, The Hampshire College Art Gallery, The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, The Smith College Museum of Art, The Yiddish Book Center, University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst., western massachusetts
Museums10: Fall Exhibits & Displays
Museum10 Fall Highlights
Museums10 has release a new seasonal brochure to highlight the fall and winter displays and exhibitions at ten cultural, historical, and educational institutions throughout the Pioneer Valley (collectively known as Museums10). The brochure is a handy resource for both locals and visitors: it provides relevant contact and admissions information for each institution, making trip-planning significantly easier, and helps to publicize, and connect audiences with, a variety of displays and exhibitions that span a wide range of interests, ages, and expertise. This is outreach at its best: the brochure benefits audiences as well as other organizations with similar goals and similar content!
The member museums and galleries in Museums10 are: The Beneski Museum of Natural History; The Emily Dickinson Museum; The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; The Hampshire College Art Gallery; Historic Deerfield; The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; The Yiddish Book Center; The Smith College Museum of Art; and the University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst.
The following is a partial list of each institution’s current and upcoming exhibitions and (if applicable) additional learning opportunities and events…
September 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Museum Day, Smithsonian Museum Day
Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day in Western MA
Saturday, September 28th, 2013
In the spirit of Smithsonian Museums, who offer free admission everyday, Museum Day Live! is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket… for free!
Western Massachusetts is home to a huge number of museums, each one filled with a myriad of unique learning opportunities. Families can visit the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage in Greenfield to learn about the role that manufacturing played in the development of the Pioneer Valley, or spend a day perusing classic works of 20th century American art at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. Children’s book enthusiasts of all sizes love the exhibits at Amherst’s Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and a visit to Chesterwood in Stockbridge or Ashley House in Sheffield can reveal much about the lifestyle lived by some notable former Berkshires residents.
Thanks to Smithsonian Magazine, all of these museums and many, many more can be visited free of charge on Museum Day Live! on Saturday, September 28th. Tickets for the special day are available on the publication’s website, and each ticket grants admission for one person plus a guest. Only one ticket may be printed per household, and each may only be used at one participating location – but nevertheless, Museum Day Live! presents a great opportunity for families to explore local galleries, historic homes, museum exhibits, and historical societies that they’ve yet to visit.
Kids of all ages can satisfy their curiosity about nearly any subject while utilizing their free ticket. Institutions participating in Museum Day Live! can help families learn about everything from the first settlers in Deerfield and the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir to the Yiddish language and the works of poet Emily Dickinson. Families can even use the event as a way to target specific topics or interests that their children have. Try matching your visit to the topics that your children are studying in school this fall, or themes that you’re learning about together at home. Entering an exhibit with learning goals in mind can help kids to focus on a common theme while taking in lots of information. If you choose a topic beforehand, try writing down all the knowledge that your family has about the subject on your way to the museum, and then generate some questions that you have. Work on answering these questions as you learn throughout your visit, then discuss what you learned on the way back. You might be surprised what you’ll find out!
A full list of participating museums is available at www.smithsonianmag.com – check ahead of time to plan your visit!
August 6, 2013 at 9:00 am (Hampshire County, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Amherst College, Community Based Education, Informal Learning, Mead Art Museum, western massachusetts
Dig into Art at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College This Summer
Informal learning environments like libraries and museums are important in preparing children for success in school and life. Why? Young brains are hardwired to learn informally!
Art museums can seem daunting for families with children—untouchable artworks, quiet galleries, and security guards at every turn. But don’t rule them out, because art museums are the perfect destination for children this summer.
The Mead Art Museum now provides free activity totes for families to borrow while at the museum. A new theme will roll out every six months. The Museum’s debut theme, available now, is Dig into Art. Kids can dress up like Indiana Jones, with explorer vest and pith helmet, as they hunt for artifacts in the museum. Families can curl up on one of the Mead’s cozy armchairs and read a picture book of Greek mythology. Budding archaeologists will each receive a take-home gallery notebook to record their discoveries, inspired by real-life scientific field journals.
Dig into Art complements the Massachusetts Libraries summer reading program Dig into Reading. Libraries and museums are natural partners for helping kids and families prevent “summer slide”—the loss of school skills over the break…
The Institute for Library and Museum Services—a federal organization—recently published a report on how important libraries and museums are in preparing children for success in school and life. Why? Young brains are hardwired to learn informally. The more opportunities young children have to learn in an informal, non-school setting, the more successful they will be in school…
July 23, 2013 at 8:00 am (Hampden County, Museum)
Tags: Crafts, upcycle, western massachusetts, Wistariahurst Museum
Wistariahurst Museum Hosts Kids’ Crafts
Join Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke in the upcycling craze with kids’ craft events this month as part of a series of Trash-to-Treasure workshops! First, on Wednesday, July 24th at 11am kids will construct their own kaleidoscope from materials found in everyone’s own home at “Kaleidoscopes for Kids.” “Trash” you can bring to upcycle into this treasure: Pringles can or paper towel tube.
Return on Wednesday, July 31st at 11am for “Bottle Cap Crafts: Jewelry, Magnets and More” where you can fashion a neat necklace, a spectacular keychain, or a marvelous magnet. “Trash” you can bring to upcycle into this treasure: found objects, broken jewelry, buttons and more! All other supplies will be provided and reservations are suggested.
Can’t make it to the Museum? Both projects are fun to do at home. Learn how to make bottle cap necklaces (or magnets & keychains) using expoxy stickers in this DIY video:
July 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Art, Berkshire County, Hilltown Families, Museum)
Tags: African American Art, Berkshires, History, Williams College Museum of Art
Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980
Williams College Museum of Art
Opening Day: Saturday, July 20th at 2pm
By the early 1960s the West Coast became highly visible among the
international arts community. African American artists such as Betye Saar made some of their earliest important works at this time. [Image credit: Betye Saar. Black Girl’s Window, 1969.]
Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980 opens at the Williams College Museum of Art this Saturday, July 20th and will run through December 1, 2013. The exhibition chronicles the vital legacy of the African American arts community in Los Angeles, examining a pioneering group of black artists whose work and connections with other artists of varied ethnic backgrounds helped shape the creative output of Southern California.
Visiting this exhibition will give visitors first-hand exposure to a wide variety of works done by African-American artists who were active during this twenty year time period. Visitors will have a chance to consider how the art being made – and social perspectives about art – in this period underwent rapid change, as artists moved from traditional methods like painting and drawing to techniques like conceptual and performance art. The exhibition illustrates not only a major shift in American art but in American public thought – perfect for students of American history, civil rights movement, pop culture, and, of course, art.
On the opening day of the exhibition, join Kellie Jones at 2pm, exhibition curator and associate professor in Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, for a first look at the show. Hear about the research and curatorial choices that made this exhibition possible, and learn more about the forms of art on display – through which many artists of the era critiqued the social, political, and economic state of the country…
July 3, 2013 at 9:00 am (Berkshire County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Video)
Tags: fairy tale, Fairy Tales, Fairytales, Norman Rockwell Museum, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney
Norman Rockwell Museum Presents “Altered Realities and the Land of Make-Believe” Summer Lecture and Performance Series
In conjunction with its new exhibition, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic,” Norman Rockwell Museum presents, “Altered Realities and the Land of Make Believe,” a lecture and performance series to be held Thursday evenings in July and August, from 5:30 to 7pm. Explore the impact of popular mythology and fairy tales on the way we view ourselves and our world, with literary scholars and folklorists, authors, artists and performers. The events are free with Museum admission unless otherwise stated.
Fairy tales are the focus of the Norman Rockwell Museum’s special exhibit this summer. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creations of a Classic,” features over 200 pieces, including conceptual drawings, character studies, storyboards, and animation drawings from the classic 1937 Walt Disney film. Based on the German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, the film uses early animation techniques and the work of over 1000 artists and production staff in order to bring the story to life. The Museum’s exhibit offers families a chance to learn about the process of creating an animated film in the days before computer animation. The exhibit features pieces from every step of the process, allowing visitors to see the changes and improvements made along the way.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the Norman Rockwell Museum is also offering a summer event series. Titled, “Altered Realities and the Land of Make-Believe,” the lecture and performance series features everything from acapella to a discussion on youth and media. The wide variety of events is designed to explore the impact of popular fairy tales on the way in which we view the world within our modern culture. Featuring literary scholars, folklorists, authors, artists, and performers, the series offers events for adults and children alike.
Families can pair a visit to the exhibit with a screening of the 1916 silent film version of Snow White based on the 1912 Broadway play, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was adapted from the Grimm brothers 1812 fairy tale…
June 19, 2013 at 9:00 am (Franklin County, History, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: History, Kemp-McCarthy Museum, Museum, town of rowe, western massachusetts
Kemp-McCarthy Museum: Historic Museum in the Hilltown Highlandss
Families can learn all about the history of life in the Hilltowns at the Kemp-McCarthy Museum, the town of Rowe’s fantastic resource for learning about local history! The Museum with be celebrating its 50th anniversary on Sunday, June 30th from 2-4pm!
A typical weeknight in a modern day Hilltown household might include driving to sports practice, using the internet to complete homework assignments, cooking dinner together on an electric stove in a well-lit kitchen, and searching for constellations in the night sky using a cell phone app. Nothing unusual – just some typical childhood activities and family downtime in a modern day society…
Rewind a full century. What would this typical weeknight have looked like during the early 20th century? Or what about fifty years earlier than that, even? Families in the Hilltowns during generations past similarly spent their evenings together at home, but their time was filled with very different activities. Instead of electricity- and technology-dependent pastimes, they played musical instruments together, did laborious household chores, and relied on woodstoves in order to do their cooking…
June 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Hampshire County, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Archaeology, Collaborations, Community Based Education, Literacy, Pioneer Valley, Reading Program, summer reading program, western massachusetts
Literacy Meets Archaeology in Amherst This Summer!
On Saturday, June 22, from 11am-3pm, Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum and Beneski Museum of Natural History will host a day of free, drop-in, kid-friendly activities. Activities include scavenger hunts and archaeology-themed art projects that are thematically linked to the Jones Library summer reading program.
Do your kids totally dig archaeology? Here’s your chance to tie their interest in dinosaurs, fossils and artifacts into reading this summer…
The Jones Library in Amherst along with its branches will be collaborating with two local museums in a free family event, Dig It! A Festival of Art, Books, and Fossils. Dig It! will be held at both the Beneski Museum of Natural History and the Mead Art Museum to kick off the library’s Dig Into Reading summer reading program on Saturday, June 22nd from 11am-3pm! To accompany the Dig Into Reading summer theme, these two Hampshire County museums, along with the Jones Library, have designed a collaborative event that will focus on archaeology and literacy!
At the Beneski Museum, families will learn how archaeologists find, uncover, and preserve bones and fossils. Kids can get up close and personal with dino skeletons and items that represent Pioneer Valley in eras past. Meanwhile, the Mead Art Museum will focus on items related to human history and culture, such as pottery and tools, offering families the opportunity to learn about the inferences that archaeologists are able to make about human history based on the artifacts that they uncover.
May 29, 2013 at 9:00 am (Berkshire County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Berkshire County, Berkshire Family Fun, Museums, The Berkshires, The Clark, Tourism, western massachusetts
Summer Highlights at The Clark
American art takes center stage this summer at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, crowning a summer schedule that provides an exceptionally lively program of events and activities.
Headlining the season are two special exhibitions opening June 9: Winslow Homer: Making Art, Making History and George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci. Both exhibitions are open until September 8. This summer also marks an important milestone for the Clark as it celebrates the fifth anniversary of Stone Hill Center on July 27.
Also on view through September 8 is the Kidspace exhibition Lions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My! at Stone Hill Center. This interactive, family-friendly exhibition is designed to spark questions of curiosity and to uncover the answers.
Special events, musical offerings, family fun, performances, and films round out the summer. Check out what The Clark has in store this upcoming season…
April 10, 2013 at 10:00 am (Franklin County, Historic Deerfield, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Community Based Education, History, Patriot's Day, Pioneer Valley, Revolutionary Muster and Parade, Revolutionary War
Patriot’s Day Revolutionary Muster and Parade
Saturday, April 13th, 2013
Go back in time and learn all about the Revolutionary War at Historic Deerfield this weekend! The museum’s Patriot’s Day Revolutionary Muster and Parade offers a chance to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of 18th century New England, just as the Revolutionary War was beginning. Families will find numerous ways to learn and experience history for themselves, and the event is filled with demonstrations and reenactments that will bring history to life!
The focus for this year’s muster is “The Shot Heard Round the World,” and the events in Concord and Lexington that officially began the country’s fight for freedom from England. Historical re-enactors will fill the grounds at Historic Deerfield with encampments of soldiers – both American and British – and will perform traditional fife and drum music and act out a small skirmish-style attack. Families can learn about the traditional dress of a revolutionary soldier, as well as the uniforms, weapons, and even behavior required of a member of the early American army.
Other educational opportunities include demonstrations of open hearth cooking and powder horn carving, house tours, a self-guided Revolution Walk tour, Colonial crafts, and more. Children can learn about the Revolutionary War through immersion – gaining an understanding of the events that lead to the war and experiencing the culture and traditions of those living during and participating in the war. They will learn about life as a soldier, as well as life as a villager contributing to the war effort. Older students can pair their pre-existing knowledge of the Revolutionary War with studies of 18th century life by learning more about the customs of early Americans.
The event takes place on Saturday, April 13th, 2013 from 10am-4pm, rain or shine – just as in Revolutionary times! Historic Deerfield is located on Old Main Street in Deerfield. Admission to the event is $12 for adults, and $5 for children ages 6-17. For more information, visit www.historic-deerfield.org/ or call 413-775-7214.
February 6, 2013 at 10:30 am (Hampden County, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Holyoke, Non-Commercial, Valentine's Day, Victorian Valentines, western massachusetts, Wistariahurst Museum
Victorian Valentines Workshop
Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke
Sunday, February 10th, 2013
Join museum staff for an afternoon of crafting valentines for friends, family and sweethearts on Sunday, February 10th. Antique valentines, bygone love poems and enchanting phrases will be on display for inspiration.
On Sunday, February 10 from 1-3pm, come to Wistariahurst Museum for this fun and creative program that will inspire the artist in everyone! In 1847, the year she graduated from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts received her first Valentine’s Day card. She was so pleased with this English novelty that she tried making some valentines of her own. With the help of her brother, a salesman who carried her cards with him along with his other samples, she received $5,000 worth of orders her first year in business!
Esther was able to handle the large volume of orders by employing friends and using “assembly-line” techniques for the production of her cards. Her cards were covered with an array of linen lace, colored paper, hand-painted birds and flowers and hand-inscribed, rhymed messages.
Esther found herself a true businesswoman by the end of 1849. She continued to make valentines for two decades. She eventually would profit $50,000 -$100,000 annually from the sale of her cards. Esther Howland’s business success made her one of America’s first “modern woman.”
Channel your inner Esther by creating your own beautiful, unique card for special friends, family and sweethearts. Antique valentines, bygone love poems and enchanting phrases will be on display for inspiration. Reservations for the workshop are suggested. $5 per person.
Victorian Era Days
Holyoke: From Monday, February 18 to Thursday, February 21 from 11am – 12pm, step out of the winter doldrums and back in time at Wistariahurst Museum! The museum is offering daily craft workshops for interested Girl Scouts and other young women. Victorian Era days is a program designed to educate young women on pastimes of yore. $5 per person per activity. Reserve online at www.wistariahurst.org
Monday, February 18, 11am-12pm: Decorated Diaries
Each member of the Skinner family kept countless journals, diaries and scrapbooks. Help keep the tradition alive by binding and decorating your own diary and learning a bit more about what was in the heads of the Skinner family.
Tuesday, February 19, 11am-12pm: Build a Bookmark
Before Kindles & Nooks there existed books! Often acting as mini-scrapbooks, bookmarks were more than just a placeholder. Join us for story-time and the opportunity to make your own bookmark keepsake.
Wednesday, February 20, 11am-12pm: Historic Hats & Hatboxes
First, take a peek at some of the antique hats Wistariahurst has gathered over time in its archives. Then, after being inspired by such ornate headwear, decorate your own miniature hatbox to take home with you!
Thursday, February 19, 11am-12pm: Fancy Fans
Become bilingual in the language of the fan with an afternoon at Wistariahurst! Scouts can see some examples of antique fans and then have the chance to decorate their own. Ending the hour of fun is a lesson on the art of communicating with your fan.
Wistariahurst Museum is located at 238 Cabot Street in Holyoke. For more information, please call 413-322-5660 or go online at www.wistariahurst.org.
-Submitted by Marjorie Latham [Photo credit: (ccl) SLV]
December 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm (Berkshire County, Hilltown Families, Museum)
Tags: Art, arts, Berkshire County, clark art institute, francine clark art institute, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, The Clark, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown
Backstories: The Other Side of Art on View at
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
December 22nd-April 21st in Williamstown
Works of art can lead a double life, with one side revealed to the public and the other hidden from view. In the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s exhibition Backstories: The Other Side of Art, these often hidden sides will come to light as a selection of works tell their little-known “backstories,” revealing when and how they were made, how they have been cared for by collectors, and the many changes they have undergone.
Museums and galleries use more than just the pieces displayed in the exhibits they show to identify them – the stories behind paintings, sculptures, and other creative works are often much richer than they seem at first glance. Information like signatures, dates, and other notes can often be found on the back of paintings, while busts and vases often have information carved into their bases. Artists also often used the reverse sides of their works to do sketches or make notes about their piece. These markings and small bits of information can help viewers learn more about things like the historical context in which a piece was created, the previous homes and/or owners of the piece, and the materials used by the artist.
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is offering a special new exhibit, Backstories: The Other Side of Art, focused on these hidden stories! On view between December 22nd, 2012 and April 21st, 2013, the exhibit is filled with works displayed non-traditionally so that viewers can inspect both sides of the story – literally! Visitors can inspect the back sides of paintings, see interesting double-sided portraits, view preliminary sketches on the back of beautiful drawings, and examine all 360 degrees of a silver milk jug engraved with the names of all of its owners (including Benjamin Franklin!).
Exploring this exhibit with your family or students (or on your own!) can provide a powerful learning experience – youth of all ages can learn about the importance of looking at art within its historical context, offering exposure to basic skills in identifying art techniques, historical relationships, and time periods. It can get them thinking about the backstory of other pieces of art too … maybe even spark an interest in researching the history behind other great works of art!
If your children or students have read and enjoyed E.L. Konigsburg’s book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, they love this real-life explorations of the backstories of art! This title would be great to pair with a visit to Backstories.
For more information visit www.clarkart.edu or call the Clark Institute at 413-458-2303. The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, MA. Admission to the exhibit is included with regular museum admission ($).
December 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm (Hampshire County, Hilltown Families, Museum, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Amherst, Charlotte's Web, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts, Garth Williams, Illustrations, Museum Exhibit, western massachusetts
Some Book! Some Art!:
Selected Drawings by Garth Williams
for Charlotte’s Web on View at the
Eric Carle Museum in Amherst
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is pleased to offer the rare opportunity for guests to see selections from the 20th-century classic, Charlotte’s Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams. Some Book! Some Art!: Selected Drawings by Garth Williams for Charlotte’s Web, on exhibit from December 11, 2012 until April 22, 2013, will celebrate Williams’s 100th birthday and the 60th anniversary of the book.
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art hosts their newest exhibit, Some Book! Some Art! – a rare opportunity to view a selection of original illustrations by Garth Williams from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web!
While many of us picture the beloved classic tale’s characters the way they look in the 1973 animated film adaptation of the story (or, for the youngest amongst us, the way that they look in the live action version from 2006), the characters were originally given life in a series of illustrations created by Garth Williams before the book’s publishing in 1952.
The original copies of the illustrations were kept in a collection together until 2010, when they were put up for auction – dispersing the works amongst numerous private collections. The Carle acquired one of the pieces, and has borrowed a selection of 19 other original illustrations, along with a collection of preliminary sketches, in order to piece together the exhibit.
Along with the illustrations are images from the animated and live action film versions of Charlotte’s Web, allowing families a chance to compare depictions of various characters between the multiple versions of the story.
The book, appropriate for most elementary students (though it fits a 4th grade reading level), can serve as a perfect family read-aloud. Visiting the exhibit after reading Charlotte’s Web provides families with a chance to examine the function of illustrations, and can help students learn to look critically at the visuals provided within a story. The show opens on Tuesday, December 11 and will be open through April 22, 2013. For more information contact The Carle at 413-658-1100 or visit the museum’s website, www.carlemuseum.org. The museum is located at 125 West Bay Road in Amherst, MA.
December 5, 2012 at 5:59 am (History, Holidays, Museum, Suggested Activity, Video)
Tags: Christmas, Community Based Education, History, History of Christmas, Holidays, Living History, Non-Commercial Christmas, Old Sturbridge Village, Origina of Holiday Traditions, place-based education, Victorian Christmas, western massachusetts
Old Sturbridge Village hosts Christmas by Candlelight
Celebration of favorite holiday traditions, music & food
Nine evening events set for Dec. 7-9; 14-16; 21-23
The legend of Santa has complex origins, blending diverse tales of magical gift givers with Christian beliefs. Dutch settlers in 17th-century New Amsterdam (New York) brought with them the legend of Saint Nicholas (Sinter Klaus), a 4th-century Christian saint from Turkey known for his generosity to children.
Take a break from the overwhelming wave of commercialized holiday “spirit” that the post-Thanksgiving season brings – visit Old Sturbridge Village for Christmas by Candlelight, which offers an incredibly wide variety of family-friendly holiday activities, performances, demonstrations, readings, crafts, and more! Villagers dressed in period costume will share holiday traditions from early New England – many of which formed the foundation upon which modern day holiday celebrations have been built! Families can learn about the roots of traditions such as yule logs, roasting chestnuts over a fire, building gingerbread houses, and even having a Christmas tree!
Friday-Sunday evenings from 4-9pm through December 23rd, the village will come alive with performances by Victorian carolers, Celtic music groups, handbell choirs, chorus groups and fife and drum corps. Visitors can view an exhibit of exquisite handmade gingerbread houses or see a miniature New England village decorated for the holiday, a model train show, or a 100+ piece nativity scene. There will be hands-on ornament making (using tin, and utilizing basic skills used by early New England metalworkers), as well as other holiday crafts.
A visit to the village can become a new holiday tradition for families, and is also a fantastic way for families to learn about history – hands-on! Each of the traditions being practiced and/or demonstrated throughout the village is specific to a particular period in American history, and families can work together to place each of their activities into a broader historical context. Visitors can actually see “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” and hear why they were a favored treat in early New England. They can also learn the origins of candy canes, mistletoe, fruitcake and how poinsettias were introduced to this country.
For more information on Christmas by Candlelight, call Old Sturbridge Village at 800-733-1830 or visit www.osv.org. Admission includes a free second visit within a 10-day period and any guests of second-day visitors receive a 25% discount on their admission. You could also inquire with your local library to see if they have a museum pass to OSV to lend. Monson Free Library, Westfield Athenaeum Library and Wilbraham Public Library all have passes to lend. Check with the nearest library near you too.
Did You Know?
The old folk tale of Hansel and Gretel, made famous by the brothers Grimm, inspired many Germans in the early 1800s to create model witches’ houses from hard gingerbread. Building fanciful gingerbread houses at Christmastime spread to America by the late 1800s.
- Most early New Englanders did not celebrate Christmas. They saw Christmas celebrations as dangerous foreign (pagan) perversions of pure Christianity and an excuse for sinful behavior.
- Yule logs began as a pagan reminder of the light and warmth of the sun on cold mid-winter nights. The word “Yule” is derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word “hweol,” which means “wheel” – a pagan symbol of the sun. The burning of a Yule log originated with the Druids, The modern practice of decorating trees and buildings with flashing electric lights seems to be a logical extension of the lighting of candles and bonfires at Christmas time.
- Christmas trees were pretty much only a German tradition until the 1840s, when Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, gave her a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, and the custom began to catch on in the English-speaking world.
(Source of Facts & Photos: Old Sturbridge Village)
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