Curator for a day in Litchfield Hills and more

February is a busy month at the Litchfield History Museum. On February 22 for example, at 3pm a lecture, The Colonial Revival as Collective Memory and Consumer has been scheduled. The lecture will be presented by Thomas Denenberg, director of the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT. The development of a culture of consumption in the decades that bracketed the turn of the twentieth century created unprecedented opportunity for the dissemination of images, objects, and texts that engendered historical consciousness in the United States. Antiquarian activities, the province of social outliers, the wealthy, or the creative such as the painter Edward Lamson Henry (1841-1919), became normative behavior in the new middle-class America.

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Gathering, collecting, and sorting historical material culture, once an end unto itself in the nineteenth century, gave way to the creation of a widespread aesthetic that prized idealized “native” forms. Entrepreneurial individuals, including the minister-turned antimodern colporteur Wallace Nutting (1861-1941), employed the very modern platforms of advertising, publishing, department stores, and mail order merchandising to encourage and fulfill middle-class desires for objects and myths that answered contemporary social needs in an era of rapid economic and geographic change.

Often termed “the” Colonial Revival—an aesthetic assumed to be, monolithic, sui generis, and whole upon arrival, this illustrated lecture will look at the phenomenon as a complex and carefully constructed collective memory that matured over time. This program is free for members and $5 for non members. Register at registration@litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org.

If you have ever wondered what it’s really like to be a curator at a history museum, you are invited to shadow the curator of the societies collections on February 26 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Participants will study artifacts from the Historical Society’s collections, get a behind-the-scenes peek at object storage, a hands-on experience with some of a curator’s day-to-day work, and assemble a hypothetical exhibit. Please register for this program by Tuesday, February 24. Non-members are required to pay the registration fee in advance of the event. Your registration will not be considered complete until we have received payment and the cost is $10 for members; $15 for non-members. Register at registration@litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org.

For more ideas about what to do and see in Litchfield Hills visit www.litchfieldhills.com

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