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Museums

Friday, June 22, 2018

Historic Vermont Silhouette Travels to Washington, D.C.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 12:07 PM

Silhouettes of Sylvia Drake and Charity Bryant, circa 1805–15 - COURTESY OF THE HENRY SHELDON MUSEUM OF VERMONT HISTORY
  • Courtesy of the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History
  • Silhouettes of Sylvia Drake and Charity Bryant, circa 1805–15

Vermont’s pioneering fight to legalize civil unions in 2000 cemented the state’s place amidst the landscape of American queer and civil rights history. Within just the past several years, the Green Mountain State has emerged as home to another gay cultural landmark: a handmade silhouette considered to be the earliest image of a same-sex couple.

The small, intimate portrait of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, which dates to the early 1800s, is now on view in “Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now” at the Smithsonian Institute's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Fourth of Nature for Shelburne, With Muppets

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 4:57 PM

A fallen tree at Shelburne Museum - COURTESY OF SHELBURNE MUSEUM
  • Courtesy of Shelburne Museum
  • A fallen tree at Shelburne Museum
Anybody out there watching "Twin Peaks: The Return?" (It's OK, I'm still working through it, too.) Or maybe you remember that one meteorologically unsettling scene from Magnolia? How about Donnie Darko's plasmatic time-travel portal? Thanks to last Friday's not-actually-a-tornado — it was a "microburst," according to the National Weather Service — a Shelburne Museum presentation on "Sesame Street" took a turn for the absurd, Lynchian and vaguely apocalyptic.

And now this arts writer gets to experientially report on the weather, among other occurrences.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Museum of Everyday Life Announces New Season, Invites Participation

Posted By on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 3:02 PM

The Museum of Everyday Life in Glover - COURTESY OF THE MUSEUM OF EVERYDAY LIFE
  • Courtesy of the Museum of Everyday Life
  • The Museum of Everyday Life in Glover
Each spring since 2011, a humble barn in the Northeast Kingdom comes to life — not with buds and blooms, but with a riot of ordinary things. Under the direction of artist and veteran Bread & Puppet performer Clare Dolan, Glover's experimental Museum of Everyday Life dedicates itself every year to a quirky and spirited exhibition that sprouts from a mundane but thematically potent object.

Last year's exhibit was on bells and whistles; the year before that, mirrors. Other previous exhibits have focused on such prosaic items as pencils and dust. Dolan has just announced the theme for the coming season at MoEL: locks and keys.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Catherine Brooks Takes the Reins at Rokeby Museum

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 3:43 PM

Catherine Brooks (at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan) - COURTESY OF CATHERINE BROOKS
  • Courtesy of Catherine Brooks
  • Catherine Brooks (at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan)
The Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh might not be known for festive parties, but that's exactly what took place on November 30. The occasion was to honor outgoing director Jane Williamson for 20 years of tireless devotion to the museum — not to mention achievements that earned the venue national acclaim.

A highlight of the evening was a big surprise: Staffers pulled down a temporary banner to reveal the words "Jane Williamson Gallery" installed in relief over the entrance of said gallery. The room, used for exhibitions and events, is on the first floor of the museum's newest building. The capacious contemporary venue is a far cry from Williamson's tiny, cramped former quarters in the bathroom-less historic former farmhouse.

The event's other surprise, at least to many of the assembled guests, was from Williamson herself: She announced that the new director would be Catherine Brooks, former president of the Rokeby's board of trustees.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Major Gift Paves Way for New Gallery at the Hyde Collection

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 4:59 PM

"Liz (F. & S.7)," lithograph by Andy Warhol - COURTESY OF THE HYDE COLLECTION
  • Courtesy of the Hyde Collection
  • "Liz (F. & S.7)," lithograph by Andy Warhol
The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, N.Y., announced today that it has received an institutional gift valued at $11 million in funds and artworks. The donation by Schenectady architect and collector Werner Feibes, 86, will be used to open the new Feibes & Schmitt Gallery, named for Feibes and his late husband and business partner, James Schmitt.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

The Hood Museum, Closed for Renovations, Loans Works to Fleming

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 6:31 PM

"Supper" by Alex Katz, gallery view - COURTESY OF FLEMING MUSEUM OF ART
  • Courtesy of Fleming Museum of Art
  • "Supper" by Alex Katz, gallery view
Vermonters dismayed by the Hood Museum's long-term closure will be happy to know there's an upside to the situation — and not just a bigger, shinier Hood when it reopens in 2019.  Three contemporary American paintings from the Dartmouth College institution's permanent collection have been relocated and are now on view at the University of Vermont's Fleming Museum of Art in Burlington. 

The Hood has shut its doors through 2018 in order to add, according to its website, "three object-study rooms, a sweeping public reception space, and a number of stunning new galleries." The  museum is also renovating its current gallery spaces. Much of the collection has been relocated to nearby storage, but 50-odd artworks have been temporarily adopted by other institutions for the mutual benefit of the Hood and museum-goers around New England. 

The works on loan at the Fleming are Ivan Albright's "The
"The Vermonter (If Life Were Life There Would Be No Death)" by Ivan Albright - COURTESY OF HOOD MUSEUM OF ART
  • Courtesy of Hood Museum of Art
  • "The Vermonter (If Life Were Life There Would Be No Death)" by Ivan Albright
 Vermonter (If Life Were Life There Would Be No Death)," Alex Katz's "Supper" and  Georgia O'Keeffe's "Taos Mountain, New Mexico." 

"These were so perfect for us, on a number of levels," said Fleming Museum executive director Janie Cohen in a telephone conversation. "They fit so beautifully into the collection the way they’re currently hung." 

"The Ivan Albright was selected because of the subject," Cohen explained. Albright (1897-1983) spent the majority of his life in Chicago, but moved to Woodstock, Vt., in 1965. He painted his oil "The Vermonter"  between 1966 and 1977. The portrait depicts his neighbor, Kenneth Harper Atwood, who, as it turns out, was a UVM alumnus.

This was the first work Albright began in his new home.  Because of its subject, it currently hangs in the Fleming's New England Gallery. Cohen noted that "Albright's style was influenced by European painting and his work as a medical draftsman in WWI." So, his style is "so not New England," she said. 

In 1997, the Art Institute of Chicago hosted a retrospective of the painter's magical-realist works. Albright was also the father-in-law of former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright. 

"Supper" by Alex Katz - COURTESY OF HOOD MUSEUM OF ART
  • Courtesy of Hood Museum of Art
  • "Supper" by Alex Katz
"Supper" by Katz (1927-) is a 1974 acrylic point-of-view painting that uses crisp lines and simple light to show an ordinary scene of friends and family congregated at the dinner table. The figure on the right is Katz's wife, Ada. At approximately five by eight feet, the work is the largest work in the Fleming's European and American Gallery, noted Cohen. 

The oil landscape by O'Keeffe (1887-1986), also placed in the European and American Gallery, was painted in 1930, during the early years of the artist's love affair with the American Southwest. "Taos Mountain, New Mexico" is an example of the simplified forms and juicy palette for which O'Keeffe would become famous. 
"Taos Mountain, New Mexico" by Georgia O'Keeffe - COURTESY OF HOOD MUSEUM OF ART
  • Courtesy of Hood Museum of Art
  • "Taos Mountain, New Mexico" by Georgia O'Keeffe
 The Fleming is not the only museum to benefit from the Hood's need-induced lending. A fragment of an Egyptian sarcophagus is at the Middlebury College Museum of Art. Regionally, other institutions that have received works include the Currier Museum of Art, the Williams College Museum of Art and the Yale University Art Gallery

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Talking Science With Montshire Museum's Marcos Stafne

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 8:35 AM

Marcos Stafne engaging in hands-on science with young patron - MONTSHIRE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE
  • Montshire Museum of Science
  • Marcos Stafne engaging in hands-on science with young patron

This month marks Marcos Stafne’s first anniversary as director of Norwich’s Montshire Museum of Science. Since relocating to White River Junction from New York City, where he was vice president of programs and visitor experience at the venerable Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Stafne, 38, has put down Upper Valley roots.

In Vermont, he's already become known for his outgoing engagement with the community. Stafne's lively online essays, collectively titled “Marcos at the Montshire,” reveal him as an inquisitive polymath who loves to guide people along the path of science education.

A glance at Stafne’s résumé — which includes a four-year stint at Manhattan’s Rubin Museum of Art and an extensive background in theater — does not immediately suggest a passion for science. Yet the “throughline” of his extensive museum career is an idea that Stafne proposes in one of his essays: “Science is an ADVENTURE.”

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Burlington's Fletcher Free Library Scores Smithsonian Exhibit

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 3:33 PM

Handaxes from (L to R) Africa (1.6 million years old), Asia (1.1 million years old) and Europe (250,000 years old) - CHIP CLARK, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION
  • Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution
  • Handaxes from (L to R) Africa (1.6 million years old), Asia (1.1 million years old) and Europe (250,000 years old)
They might not have called ahead about it, but you should know that your relatives are coming to town. So are mine, and your neighbor’s, and those of your bank teller and barista. You can meet them all in downtown Burlington.

The Fletcher Free Library has just been selected as one of just 19 sites to host “Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human?,” a traveling exhibit based on a permanent feature at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. The exhibit — which features hands-on displays, videos and interactive kiosks — is cosponsored by the American Library Association, and will be at the Fletcher from February 18 through March 17, 2017. Talk about planning ahead.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Hordes of Ants Invade the Montshire Museum

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 4:52 PM

If this ant were human-size, this would have been the photographer's final shot. - MARK W. MOFFETT | COURTESY OF SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION TRAVELING EXHIBITION SERVICE
  • Mark W. Moffett | Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
  • If this ant were human-size, this would have been the photographer's final shot.
We may not give much thought to the millions upon millions of ants that occupy nearly every ecosystem on Earth — but perhaps we should. After all, ants and human beings are a lot alike. Both are social species with complex kinship systems, they’re the only two species known to practice agriculture, and the only ones to wage full-bore war on creatures of the same species. In many ways, the study of ants is akin to anthropology.

The fundamental similarity of ants and Homo sapiens is one of the chief lessons of the Montshire Museum of Science’s
new exhibit “Farmers Warriors Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants,” which opens at the Norwich museum on Saturday, January 24. The exhibit, curated by the Smithsonian Institution, puts front and center 39 enormous, extraordinary photographs of ants taken by renowned explorer, scientist and author Mark W. Moffett. His macro-lens shots of these tiny, fascinating creatures are works of art as much as scientific studies.

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