The Bennington Museum (VT)

Hi everyone! Last week I wrote about a drive my sweet husband and I took from Albany to Bennington. We passed some beautiful old barns and other assorted buildings. We had plans to visit the Bennington Museum, which has the largest collection of Grandma Moses paintings in the world.

Bennington Museum entranceThe museum also contains collections of Revolutionary War artifacts, the Gilded Age, Vermont painters, and Bennington Pottery.

Entrance to Bennington Museum, Bennington, vTThe building, which sits high on a hill, dates from 1855 and was originally home to a Catholic church.

Horse statue made of driftwoodBefore entering the museum one is met by some beautiful art, like this driftwood stallion sculpture, Tres Bien, by Rita Dee (2014).

Bell outside Bennington Museum VTThis handsome bell, manufactured in Troy (NY), also sits outside the museum. We visited Troy’s 2nd Street not too long ago.

The Spirit of America (Lincoln) And this attractive statue, The American Spirit, by Vermont sculptor Clyde Hunt, portraying Lincoln with one hand on a woman’s head and the other on a boy’s head.

Grandma Moses

The Bennington Museum (VT)
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Since we had come especially to see some Grandma Moses, we headed for her exhibit first. I’ve not quite figured out how she ended up in a Vermont Museum, because she spent most of her life over the border in New York (about 45 minutes from Albany). She did stay in Bennington on a couple of occasions to help nurse sick relatives at her daughter’s home there, and she also painted a few Bennington scenes, including one of the Battle of Bennington. So I understand why the town feels partial to her.

Early needlepoint by Grandma MosesWe learned that her “art career” had its beginnings in self-designed needlework projects, like this one of Mt. Nebo on the Hill. This is the property she and her husband owned, and where her great-grandson, Will Moses, lives and paints today. In the Bible, Mt. Nebo is the place Moses climbed to get a view of the Promised Land. Isn’t that interesting, given their last name was Moses? I found that out by accident when I Googled “Mt. Nebo.”

The Bennington Museum (VT)

This piece, Sugaring Off (1943), depicts one of Grandma Moses favorite subjects. The vibrancy of her paintings and the joy they give the viewer are really quite remarkable. A completely self-taught artist, she was “discovered” by NYC collector Louis Caldor, who passed a display of her paintings in the window of the local drugstore.

Grandma Moses, Old Checkered House

This piece was unfamiliar to me, but I love it–that checkered house is something, isn’t it? It shows up in several of her works. About painting, Moses once said, “I like to paint something that leads me on and on into the unknown, something that I want to see away on beyond.” Her landscapes almost always do that, lead us beyond the human activity in the foreground to the beautiful, usually mountainous, regions far and away. (Old Checkered House, 1943)

Grandma Moses’ Schoolhouse

Antique McGuffey Reader in Bennington MuseumWalking through the museum, one moves from the gallery filled with Grandma Moses’ paintings into the school house from Eagle Bridge, where she, her children, and some of her grandchildren actually attended school. Pretty amazing.

G. Moses Schoolhouse Bennington Museum (3)A McGuffey’s spelling book was on hand for children to look at.
G. Moses Schoolhouse Bennington MuseumAll kinds of things that you’d expect in an old-fashioned school room.
Bennington MuseumBack in the corner of the schoolroom is an area where children can touch and play with a number of fun, antique items, like tins, bake ware, boxes, old bottles, and more.

Chessboard Bennington Museum

Including this neat, old checkerboard.

Bennington Pottery

Bennington PotteryBennington pottery is not an unfamiliar name to those of us in the vintage and antique business. Bennington has been the sight of pottery production since the 1800s, and it still is. In fact, just before we toured the museum, we popped into their store on County Street, and found contemporary versions of their famous pottery. The piece above was presented by the founder of Bennington Pottery to his son, upon his graduation from college.

Bennington Pottery (2)This type of salt-glazed jug with cobalt blue, hand-painted decoration, highly collectible today, would not have been uncommon back in the 19th century. Though something this large and ornate would have cost a considerable sum.

The Gilded Age

Couch at Bennington MuseumThe Gilded Age in America occurred during the last quarter of the 19th century, generally corresponding with the Victorian Era in Great Britain. It was a time of both great wealth (for a few) and great poverty (for many), characterized by opulent spending on the one hand and slum dwelling on the other. On the plus-side, it saw the rise of labor unions, the shortening of the work day, and a move toward protective child labor laws. The items in the Museum’s collection, like this beautifully detailed empire sofa, reflect the opulence of those times.

May Palmer by Frederick MacMonnies I’m very enamored with this beautiful painting by Frederick MacMonnies, May Palmer (1901-02). Her auburn hair, the yellow flowers, and her gorgeous dressing gown against the spring green grass and trees combine so perfectly, so spectacularly, really.

Tiffany Acorn LampAnything Tiffany must be mentioned and praised. Don’t you agree? The simple beauty of this acorn lampshade is just stunning.

Vermont Impressionism

Calvin Coolidge Birthplace, Arthur Wilder Arthur Wilder, an accomplished Vermont painter, trained under Thomas Eakins in New York City and received praise from Hudson River School Painter, George Inness. This painting, Calvin Coolidge Birthplace, hung in the White House when Coolidge was president. Wilder owned The Woodstock Inn (VT) for many years and filled its rooms with his beautiful artwork.

Old Lyme Kilns, Horace BrownHorace Brown, another Vermont impressionist, was also a member of the state legislature, where  he worked tirelessly to protect the Vermont landscapes that he loved. (Old Lyme Kilns)

Bennington Museum is a very enjoyable, regional museum, with some lovely exhibits,
particularly of Grandma Moses. We highly recommend a visit.
Bennington Museum
75 Main Street, Bennington, VT 05201
(802) 447-1571
324 County Street, Bennington, VT 05201
(800) 205-8033

Learn more about Grandma Moses here:
Artsy

Bye for now,

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7 Comments

  1. Wow, wow, wow! This tour had everything! I was especially taken with Grandma Moses' old schoolhouse. I am still a teacher at heart!

  2. The statue of Lincoln is a bit odd. It's like he is a savior. What seems to be the interpretation of that? About Grandma Moses: I wonder how it is that some self-taught artists are brought into the forefront and revered for their contributions while many are not. She was probably at the right place at the right time with the right person. Also, the museum itself looks like a fortress. Are the bars used in lieu of electronic security? Thank you for the tour!

  3. Love your blog post and reallly enjoyed seeing some of grandma moses work. I especially love the snowy scene. Have of course heard of her, but don't really think I have seen any of her work before. Really lovely! Also love the art outside of the museum! I also love the schoolhouse and the McGuffeys Reader. I do remember those…. LOL Have a great day and enjoyed your museum tour

  4. Pingback: Troy Night Out

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