Inhabiting Folk Portraits

April 14, 2018 – March 24, 2019

This exhibition showcases twelve of the most impressive portraits from Fruitlands Museum’s remarkable collection of nineteenth century middle-class portraiture, alongside paintings and writings by the museum’s Guest Artist of 2018, Candice Smith Corby. Corby is an accomplished artist and educator who paints with traditional materials and draws inspiration from literature, familial and personal stories, dreams, memories, and “the pleasure of observing treasured objects.”

Corby begins with the curator’s prompt: what were the subjects thinking or looking at while being painted—and takes it to inventive places from there. She will continue to paint in response to the site over the course of the year, and her paintings will pop up as “artist interventions in the historic homes, the trails, and other locations. Corby will also contribute creative writing, words that may take the form of letters and diary entries.

Just outside of the main gallery, a dramatic, floor-to-ceiling red velvet cloth leads to an interactive area where visitors of all ages, sizes, and genders may try on clothing or accessories like those seen in the portraits. The hats, shawls, lace collars, and other accessories provide the opportunity for visitors to try on and, as the title says, inhabit each portrait. The portraits present subjects from childhood through old age, and a full range of visitors will have the opportunity to don a hat, cape, or lacy garment, look in a mirror or through a frame, and imagine themselves as one of the sitters on view.

Eden 2.0

May – November 2018

Alexi Antoniadis creates a large-scale outdoor sculpture to help us mark the 175th anniversary of the Fruitlands Utopian Commune that took place on this site. Antoniadis uses hand-formed steel and will color it with paint. The mesmerizing contours are informed in part by the sleek, non-representational forms of 20th-century modernism, yet with a balance of line and space that is very much of the present. The sleek lines provide a magnetic source of curiosity and new sightlines through which visitors may view the landscape.

Antoniadis works with themes of utopia and creates site-specific work responding to the Fruitlands experiment of 1843, including the high-reaching expectations, the ultimately disappointing outcome, and the structure of the house itself. The sculpture will have an open-air outline, or “ghost,” of the house that people could walk around and through. While loosely echoing the forms of the Fruitlands farmhouse, the sculpture will join structure and idea in metaphor, completing the past while casting it through a contemporary lens to reform or reject it, based on the viewpoint of each person experiencing it.

Conversations in Craft:
Furniture from The Trustees Collection and North Bennet Street School Artisans

November 18 – April 29, 2018

Dan Faia, “Window to the Past” wall carving, 2017. Wakefield, NH, linden, mahogany, butternut, Douglas fir, black walnut. NBSS ’94 and Department Head, Cabinet & Furniture Making.

Sunflower chest, detail, circa 1690, Wethersfield, Connecticut, oak, pine, maple, Part of collection at Mission House, MH.F.A.

North Bennet Street SchoolCurated by the Trustees’ Senior Curator, Christie Jackson, this collaboration with the acclaimed North Bennet Street School (NBSS) of Boston will feature newly-created, original pieces of wooden furniture made by twelve select staff and alumni from NBSS alongside historical pieces of furniture from the Trustees collections.

Each participant worked closely with Jackson to select a piece of historical furniture to respond to, and they will “answer” in a range of ways -not with copies or reproductions, but in some cases with a contemporary companion to an 18th or 19-century object, such as a chair for a desk, or floral inlay that seems to bloom in response to bud-like inlay made in the 1820s. Each pair of objects – old and new – will be displayed together.

Conversations in Craft explores the stories of these historic objects, discovering the ways they were crafted, and creating new dialogues between old and new with contemporary interpretations. Through these conversations, the exhibition celebrates the rich tradition of cabinetmaking in New England that continues to this day.

A New View: Landscapes from the Permanent Collection

Sept 2, 2017 – Nov 5, 2018

From chair rail to ceiling, the walls on the South Gallery will be resplendent with a salon-style display of the largest grouping in decades of landscape paintings from the museum's permanent collection. Featuring more than 50 paintings from Hudson River School painters including Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, and Frederic Church, the 19th-century oil on canvas paintings will transport visitors to 1947, when museum founder Clara Endicott Sears first presented them to the public.

Also On View

Landscape and Portrait paintings from our permanent collection.

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102 Prospect Hill Road
Harvard, Massachusetts 01451
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