Highlights at 10 Pioneer Valley Museums this Fall

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…

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11 Autumn Highlights at Historic Deerfield

Visit Historic Deerfield this Fall for Fun Seasonal Activities with Your Family

Apprentice’s workshop open daily. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Historic Deerfield is a lovely place to visit any time of the year – but the fall is definitely a most special time. In addition to visiting historic homes and collections, visitors on weekends will enjoy involvement in hands-on activities on a variety of topics.

Open Hearth Cooking and Historic Trade demonstrations are featured on Saturdays, Sept-Nov, 2012.

Highlights this fall for families include Stencil Art offered September and October weekends 12–4:30pm. Learn about the work of stencil artists who traveled from town to town taking commissions to decorate building interiors. Explore the art of stenciling and make a beautiful and unique stenciled artwork to take home. Also visit Into the Woods: Crafting Early American Furniture to see painted and stenciled furniture for inspiration!

Participate in a Family Scarecrow-Making Workshop held on September 29 at 10am or 2pm. Once a familiar sight as a guardian of crops in the rural landscape, scarecrows are now more often seen as symbols of harvest time and Halloween. Try your hand at making a scarecrow, and learn about the fascinating history of scarecrows in New England, and around the world. Space is limited; pre- registration is required. Contact Faith Deering at 413-775-7116 or fdeering@historic-deerfield.org. Activity available with museum admission plus a $5 materials fee.

Studded with cloves and fragranced with cinnamon, an apple pomander historically served as a festive and decorative air freshener. (Courtesy photo)

Taking our cues from the seasonal changes around us,  the museum will feature a program about apples on November weekends, 12-4:30pmFrom Apples to Ornaments teaches about uses of apples and spices as you make an apple pomander to take home with you. From cider to pies to sauce, the bounty of fall apples has many uses. One way to use an apple is to preserve its fragrance and shape in the form of a pomander. Studded with cloves and fragranced with cinnamon, an apple pomander historically served as a festive and decorative air freshener.

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend learn about both Native and English histories. Friday, November 23 meet Narragansett descendant Jennifer Lee will talk about Native history and culture while demonstrating traditional bark-basket-making technology in a program called Native Traditions Past and Present. On Saturday November 24 we welcome Season of Thanks: Society of the 17th Century, a group of re-enactors who will bring our historic Hall Tavern building to life with an incredible array of period arts, crafts and trades. See redware pottery, spinning, lace making, herbal lore, quill pen writing, wood carving, basket making, and arms and armor.

Hearth Cooking demonstrations this season will focus both on recipes for fresh foods of the harvest, as well as some techniques for preservation (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Capture the holiday spirit this December by joining our cooks, guides, educators, and craftspeople in a month-long series of traditional festive activities. Starting Saturday, December 1, visitors can see daily “Sugar & Spice” open hearth cooking demonstrations, participate in hands-on “Giftmaking” activities, and enjoy seasonal decorations hung throughout the historic Hall Tavern (except December 24-25). Experience the warmth of the hearth and take in the aroma of sweet, savory, and spiced foods prepared in the open hearth. Make one of three gifts by hand to take home and give to someone special.

Weekends will offer additional activities including horse-drawn wagon rides, and a special “Silhouettes” event. Bundle up and tour the village aboard a wagon drawn by the beautiful horses of Karas Farm December 1–2, 8–9, and 15–16. Don’t miss artist Lauren Muney demonstrating the historic art of cutting likenesses from paper with just a pair of scissors on December 8–9.

For more information about Historic Deerfield visit www.historic-deerfield.org for a full calendar of events and visitor information, or call 413-775-7214.


Amanda Rivera LopezAmanda Rivera Lopez

Amanda is the Director of Museum Education at Historic Deerfield. She lives in Amherst with her family which includes an 11 year old daughter and 8 year old son.

A Day at Historic Deerfield

Historic Deerfield: That Museum Town

Visitor's center at Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, MA (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

My mom and I had a little time on a sunny day a few weeks back and took the kids to Historic Deerfield. To be very honest, I felt like it might be a tough sell. I have three boys. They are 4½, 6 and 11½ years old.  My oldest has been very tween-y lately. My youngest has been very sleepy, running himself ragged at the Parent’s Center and then preschool. He is often heard saying on the weekend, “I just want to do what I do,” in other words, “let me be.” And Henry, my 6 year old, likes to know exactly what everything is ahead of time. Historic Deerfield is a village dedicated to early New England Colonial History. It is also just a neighborhood with homes, streets, sidewalks and a post office. This is a bit much for my 6 year old to take in, but I convinced him to trust me.

I’ve been meaning to tell you all a secret. My local library has a collection of museum passes. They usually admit 4 or 5 people for free or at a discounted rate. Your local library may have a similar program. It’s incredibly easy to use. You check out the pass with your library  card and return it to the circulation desk 2 days later.

Making and baking apple pies in the open hearth kitchen. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

After picking up our museum passes at the Forbes Library, we went to Historic Deerfield.  On our way to the visitor’s center we saw a demo of a craftsman steaming felt hats into shape. The old iron was heated by flame, steam was everywhere. Hat-making looked dangerous and the boys were hooked. We took our pass to the visitor’s center, got our bracelets that would be our tickets for the day and got some very solid helpful advice from the staff about the best spots to visit with the boys. We settled on the Open Hearth Kitchen, the History Workshop and the Apprentice’s Workshop.

We walked into the open hearth kitchen where cakes were cooking in cake pans inside dutch ovens on the hearth. The kids enjoyed chipping sugar off a cone and grinding it in the mortar and pestle. We poked around the kitchen equipment making a little matching game for ourselves: the whisk was made of twigs, the toaster was a spinning piece of cast iron that was set hearth-side. I will return with Henry to take an open hearth cooking class so he can really get his hands on all the equipment.

Child-sized loom in the History Workshop. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

The Children’s History Workshop is a play and pretend area for families. There are costumes, an open hearth kitchen with pretend food, a mini one room school house with the type of desk that has a chair attached. My children have never sat in these before, although I remember sitting on its more modern counter-part in my little school as a child. The kids played with the slates and chalks giving each other silly dictations and pretending to write in fancy script. The staff person there helped the kids make a jar with the ingredients for split pea soup which we brought home. She also let them use the child-sized loom. Nothing surprised me more than my boy children loving the loom. They loved the pedals, the yarn, the swift rhythm of moving the shuttle back and forth. It was hard to tear them away.

We did pull them away to the Apprentice’s Workshop. Seems like we hit a pretty quiet day in the workshop; there was not too much happening. There was  a full size loom which was impressive to see. There was a second smaller loom which Isaac used, hopping on and following the posted pattern. The joiners’ workshop and the pottery studio are places I’d love to go back to; as well as, walk through some of the historic homes – very quickly, I’m sure, with three kids, but I would still love to see the interiors. We pulled them away from weaving for a second time in an hour. Henry asked if we could go back to that museum town again soon – that’d be a yes. When you visit, there is a helpful family guide and schedule of family events on their website. The staff in the visitor’s center were very helpful as we were trying to decide how to plan our time with the kids – so take a minute to ask their advice. We truly had a wonderful time and now I want a child-sized loom in my home for keeping them busy, quiet and productive during the winter months ahead.


Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.


New England History and Chocolate are Celebrated at the Historic Deerfield Museum in February

Bring the Family to the Historic Deerfield Museum
7th Annual American Heritage Chocolate Celebration
February 13th, 2010

Looking to satisfy both the history buff and the sweet tooth in you? There is no better way than to enjoy a fun-filled day with sweet chocolate aromas, captivating lectures, and most important-chocolate treats! The seventh annual American Heritage Chocolate Celebration at Historic Deerfield on February 13, 2010, is an exploration of everything chocolate including a sumptuous array of gourmet chocolate desserts, foods, and beverages.

The 2010 Chocolate Celebration will include a range of informed presentations on the history of the favorite food including a special presentation by Curator of Historic Interiors, Amanda Lange. Lange’s talk titled Sweet Concoctions: A History of Chocolate in Early America will feature her research used in the recent chocolate anthology Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage released earlier this year by by Wiley Press.

In addition, Bob Heiss, food professional and owner/proprietor of Cooks Shop Here in Northampton, MA, will give a special talk and tasting titled Exploring and Tasting a Favorite Treat. And Eric Whitacre, Executive Director of the Confectioners Mill Preservation Society, will speak about his efforts to create a museum devoted to the history of chocolate mills in early America.

To really have the full chocolate sensory experience, visitors can visit with Susan McLellan Plaisted, Proprietress of Heart to Hearth Cookery, as she roasts cacao beans over the open hearth and grinds them on a stone metate.

Historic Deerfield guides will also present highlights tours of the Museum’s Attic focusing on collections associated with the preparation and serving of stimulating beverages, such as tea, coffee and chocolate. See master silversmith Steve Smithers as he works to recreate a silver chocolate pot from the Historic Deerfield collection. Taste American Heritage Chocolate, and create your own Valentine using decorative papers.


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Hilltown Families Spend a Cozy Winter’s Day in Historic Deerfield

Discovering Colonial America in Deerfield

Faith Deering demonstrating a variety of natural fibers used in Colonial America. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

On Saturday, Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, MA, hosted A Cozy Winter Day at their Hall Tavern. Many Hilltown families gathered together to experience some of the rich history of early New England. The day’s presentations included a hands-on approach to illustrate the homestead activities in which early settlers may have participated, such as sewing, cooking, storytelling or singing songs. Families passed the blustery winter afternoon as early New Englanders did.

Weaving on a loom. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Faith Deering did a wonderful sewing demonstration for small groups of families. She present a variety of natural fibers that were used to sew with, including wool, cotton and flax. Children were shown how to card wool, got to see how cotton was grown and view flax before it was processed into fiber.

Families also had the opportunity to see how wool was spun on a spinning wheel. The process of shearing sheep and explanations on why some wools were different colors was shared, and many questions answered. Once the steps from wool to yarn were completed, children got the chance to weave finished threads on a real loom. Samples to take home were passed out.

Cooking demo over an open heart fire. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Participants also had the opportunity to learn about quilting and make their own small quilt to take home. Fabric was available to paint followed by a demonstration on assembly and sewing. Kids loved making their own special quilts for their dolls or stuffed bears at home.

Around lunchtime a cooking demonstration over an open-hearth was offered. Kids watched how cooks made gingerbread, pies and soups over an open fire. Everyone had a chance to make their own gingerbread cookies to cook in the fire.

Musician Tim Van Egmond performed winter-themed songs and told stories. Encouraging audience participation, Tim sang folk songs, played a variety of instruments, including the hammered dulcimer, and told engaging tales.

The day was well spent in Historic Deerfield. Families were engaged the whole day through and children were afforded a wonderful opportunity to look at the ways of life for early New Englanders. The next family activity that will be offered at Historic Deerfield is All About Maps on March 31st, 2007. This will be a workshop for families, offering map-related activities, including how to make your own map.

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