Bennington Museum: New Website Offers Searchable Collection Online

Over six years ago, Bennington Museum initiated a plan to place the complete holdings of the collection of the museum online, making it accessible to anyone and everyone. Thanks to a grant from the Edwin S. Webster Foundation, the museum’s collection records (over 52,000 records) are now online including 5000 glass plate negatives. A new and powerful search interface for the collections accommodates searches by keyword, related people, artist, title, or one can browse by random images. Visitors to the new Bennington Museum site will also find information about upcoming programs and special events, and exhibitions currently on view as well as what is planned for the future. The design of the site is fully responsive making it mobile, and tablet, friendly

Bennington was changing rapidly at the turn of the 19th century and local photographers captured the people and landscape using negatives on thin plates of glass. The Bennington Museum recently acquired nearly 2,000 glass plate negatives from this era that were held in the Weichert-Isselhardt Collection. Staff, volunteers, and interns have been scanning, cataloging and identifying the collection.

Most of the negatives in this collection were taken by Madison Watson (active in Bennington 1888-1899) and Wills T. White (active in Bennington 1899-1940). When White retired he left the glass plate negatives in the attic above his former studio located in downtown Bennington. The building also housed the Bennington Banner and in 1958 the negatives were found by Robert Weichert, photographer for the Banner. Weichert started collecting historic photographs and later hired Tordis Isselhardt to help organize the collection and formed a company “Images of the Past.” After retiring, Isselhardt realized that this treasure trove of Bennington images needed to stay in the community.

In addition to the Weichert-Isselhardt Collection, the online catalog includes photographs by John Hubbard, Mary Sanford, Frederick D. Burt, William Hayden, and others, as well as art, historic artifacts, books in the museum’s research library, and the museum’s other notable collections.

Major 2016 Exhibitions
Through November 6, Bennington Museum presents Milton Avery’s Vermont the first exhibition to take a focused look at the work this great American modernist created based upon his summers spent in southern Vermont, from the mid-1930s through the mid-1940s. Noted for his simultaneous commitment to exploring the formal, abstract qualities of art (line, texture, composition and, especially color) and the creation of representational images drawn from his daily encounters with people and places, Avery’s Vermont work vividly captures his family’s summer activities and the artist’s personal response to the Vermont landscape. The work that was inspired and to an extent created in Vermont, from pencil sketches executed en plein air, fresh watercolors based on these sketches and painted while in Vermont, and many major oil paintings drawn from these sources and typically completed during the winter months in his New York studio, is celebrated in Milton Avery’s Vermont.

The works in the exhibition are drawn from Milton Avery Trust; The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York; the Peabody College Collection, Vanderbilt University of Fine Arts Gallery; and private collectors who wish to remain anonymous.

On view through October 30 is a remarkable photography exhibition of works by Duane Michals, known by many as one of the great photographic innovators of the last century, widely known for his work with series, multiple exposures, and text. This particular exhibition – Duane Michals: Photographs from the Floating World, features vibrant color photographs by this groundbreaking artist created in and around Cambridge, New York, during the last decade. The images reference art historical precedents, such as Japanese fan paintings and the late nineteenth-century French artists Bonnard and Vuillard, and depict emotion and universal themes like love, death, and immortality. Incorporated into his work is text which does not explain his photography, but gives voice to his ideas and thoughts about the pictures.

The quilt that inspires quilters all over the world will be on its yearly display at the Bennington Museum from September 3 through October 10. The 1863 Jane Stickle Quilt is comprised of 169 five-inch blocks, each in different patterns, containing a remarkable total of 5,602 pieces surrounded by a unique scalloped border.

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