Past Exhibits at the Museum

woman sitting on rock with building behindThe Dames
February-July 2020
Local History Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
For many people, ancestral lineage organizations such as the Colonial Dames are a world apart. We might be intrigued by their celebration of family and colonial history, patriotic service, and shared values—or, alternately, made uncomfortable by perceptions of elitism surrounding their lineage-based membership. But who are these women—these Dames? This exhibit is a collection of oral history recordings and photographic portraits created by the Vermont Folklife Center featuring thirteen members of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Vermont.

two chairs in galleryThe Sheldon Relic Chair, 1884-2018
February-July 2020
Local History Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier, VT
In the 1880s, Middlebury resident Henry Luther Sheldon began constructing an eclectic “Memorial Chair,” with each of the spindles in the top two rows carved from “relics”— fragments from sites of historical significance, from the Middlebury Congregational Church to the ship Old Ironsides. In this way, the chair is a material object that embodies local and national history. In January 2018, students from Middlebury College researched this chair, and nineteenth-century collecting practices, then went about creating a 2018 version (using items such as College President Laurie Patton’s earbuds, bike handlebars, and a piece of marble from Marble Works). The two chairs now offer a dialogue about practices of craft and memory-making in 1884 and 2018.

pencil drawing of man standing on porchVermont’s Historical Brand
April 2019-July 2020
National Life Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
From 1934 to 1946, the National Life insurance company commissioned 150 works of art depicting stories from Vermont's past. These illustrations, and associated Vermont stories used to pitch various insurance products, appeared in such popular publications as Saturday Evening Post, Time, Colliers, and The Atlantic. The set of illustrations became so popular that National Life published them in book form for Vermont schools to use. This exhibit includes 14 of the original works of art created for these campaigns by artists Roy F. Heinrich and Herbert M. Stoops, along with the original descriptions meant to accompany them.  Works on loan from, and exhibit made possible by, National Life. 

Norman Rockwell's Arlington bannerNorman Rockwell's Arlington: America's Home Town
August 2019 to February 2020
Local History Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
From roughly 1920 to 1960, Arlington was the center of an influential community of artists whose work shaped our image of America. Led by Norman Rockwell, these artists produced hundreds of illustrations for major magazines like The Saturday Evening Post, ads for major corporations and influential public service campaigns. Norman Rockwell's Arlington: America's Home Town chronicles Rockwell and the other artists who lived in Arlington, as well as the many local residents who posed for the scenes of everyday life they portrayed. Some of the most iconic images we know of life in America were in fact, portraits of Arlington's citizens.

Sports in VermontSports in Vermont
May to November 2019
Calder Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
Borrow this exhibit! Available through our Traveling Exhibit program

Vermonters are active and athletic, and find ways to enjoy sports regardless of the weather. In the mountains and in the valleys, inside and out, over the decades the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat has been part of life in the Green Mountain State. Sports in Vermont explores the way Vermonters enjoy pastimes both competitively and for fun, in all four seasons.

Vermont Music Far and Wide
January to July 2019
Local History Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
Vermont’s music spans genres and generations and reminds us how creative and diverse we are as a people, past and the present. The volunteer-staffed nonprofit Big Heavy World has curated a colorful and interactive exhibit of eclectic artifacts that showcase Vermont music history from recent decades. ‘Vermont Music, Far & Wide’ reflects on how music is an art form, a catalyst for community-building, and also a contributor to the state’s economy.

Seeds of Renewal
October 2018 to May 2019
Calder Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
Borrow this exhibit! Available through our Traveling Exhibit program

The Seeds of Renewal exhibition was created in 2018 by the Vermont Historical Society in partnership with Dr. Frederick M. Wiseman, an Abenaki community member and retired professor and department chair of humanities at Johnson State College. The exhibit includes panels exploring Abenaki agricultural history and techniques, varieties of indigenous Abenaki plants, agricultural ceremony and harvest dinners, and cooking techniques. It also includes models of indigenous squash varieties, examples of different types of indigenous corn, and recipes. The exhibit aims to raise awareness of Abenaki agricultural history, cuisine, and ceremony, and how one can play an active role in Indigenous cultural awareness and revitalization.

exhibit in museum Brattleboro, the Defining Decades: 1870-1920
July 2018 to January 2019
Local History Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
Brattleboro’s central New England location has been attractive to people throughout history. And one particular period of time shaped the town rather dramatically. Brattleboro - The Defining Decades showcases Brattleboro from 1870-1920, when the Main Street we recognize today began to take form, industry and commerce expanded, and arts and culture began to flourish. Explore the growth of this southeastern Vermont town through maps, photos, and other items from the Brattleboro Historical Society collection.

Solzhenitsyn in Vermont
May 2018 to November 2018
Calder Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
Borrow this exhibit! Available through our Traveling Exhibit program

The Solzhenitsyn in Vermont exhibit celebrates the life and work of Russian novelist and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, particularly his time living in Cavendish, Vermont and its influence on his life and work. Telling the story through photographs, quotes, and family memories, the exhibit includes 5 main exhibit panels, along with 4 timeline panels noting important moments from Solzhenitsyn’s life.

Our Vanishing Landmarks: Chelsea and Beyond
January 2018 to July 2018
Local History Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
Photographs and pen & ink drawings tell the story of old wooden barns, farm buildings, and equipment from the Chelsea, VT area that are slowly disappearing from the landscape but were an essential part of existence and survival for the early farmers in the mountains of Vermont.

Everywhere a SignEverywhere a Sign
December 2017 to May 2018
Calder Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
Borrow this exhibit! Available through our Traveling Exhibit program

Signs are everywhere. They inform, educate and promote. Over time, many signs become a part of their communities. They are a way to orient visitors or a source of shared memory.  The Vermont Historical Society’s travelling exhibit “Everywhere a Sign” examines the distinct and diverse roles signs play in our everyday. Through images and text, you can explore the progression from colonial-era signs that utilized symbols as a common language, to the digital signs of today that can change their message every minute. The diversity, artistry and impact of signs on our everyday lives are immeasurable. What sign will you notice next?

Family Traits
November 2017 to January 2018
Local History Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
“Family Traits,” created by the Vermont Folklife Center, tells the story of Stanley Lyndes and the impact he had on his family and the collective memories they share. Stanley channeled his noticing into the making of things, and over time these objects became touchstones for the generations of his family that have followed him, revered as both treasured artifact and the creative expression of a common past.

Studies in Perfection: The Portrait Painting of Thomas Waterman Wood
August 2017 to November 2017
Local History Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
Exploring some of the portrait work by renowned Montpelier painter T.W. Wood in an examination of his changing technique and talent, with a focus on comparing portraits of local Montpelier citizens with his master copies after Rembrandt and other European masters.

The Morgan Horse in Vermont
April 2017 to August 2017
Local History Gallery, Vermont History Museum, Montpelier
Exploring the Morgan Horse and its ties to Vermont, from the time of Justin Morgan and "Figure" the first Morgan Horse, to today.

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