Coming July 3rd to Bennington Museum, the People’s Choice exhibition is breaking from tradition. If you are looking for the curator, you will be out of luck, because the museum is handing that role over to the public.
Bennington Museum has posted five categories on their website to choose from. The categories are wide ranging, as the voters get to choose from military and patriotic, familiar scenes, favorite people, favorite household items, and lastly fun stuff. Voters will take surveys that are accompanied by photos of the items. Choose your favorites and await to see which items have won their spot in the exhibition.
Callie Raspuzzi, the museum’s Collections Manager says, “the collection focuses on Vermont and the Bennington region. The artists and objects featured in this exhibit are all either local or have a local significance.”
When Raspuzzi was asked if the media for display is diverse, she stated, “Oh yes, this is a very mixed bag.”
Each category offers unique and historic items. Choose from Vermont Militia uniforms from three centuries ago and a 14-star flag, paintings of Vermont’s beautiful scenery by Grandma Moses’ ancestors, antique rocking chairs, funky jewelry that is the epitome of vintage, and 19th century wedding gowns paired with a few carved tree fungi. The list goes on.
Anyone can vote on what they would like to see displayed in the upcoming exhibition. The items chosen for display were packed away in storage, seldom seen. This exhibition is their moment in the spotlight, thanks to the public’s voice. Voters also get a sneak preview of what has been behind the scenes all this time by taking the surveys.
The pandemic has brought changes to the art world. Bennington Museum has adapted to those changes, going as far as to giving their audience more of a say in what items are displayed. This upcoming exhibition marks the reopening of the museum to visitors.
There is still time to vote for your favorite display items and a chance to see your choices showcased in the upcoming exhibition. Raspuzzi hopes that people take the opportunity to vote on what they want, and hopes they enjoy the experience.
Callie Raspuzzi spoke further on the People’s Choice exhibition.
Is this a first for Bennington Museum? Do you think that the museum will offer an exhibition like this again?
Yes, this is the first time we’ve done anything quite like this. I don’t know if we will ever do it again. It was created to fix a problem of other exhibits falling through, but if it ends up being wildly successful, I could see us doing it again.
Can you tell us a little bit about the art featured in the categories? Are there local and national artists in the mix?
Our collection focuses on Vermont and the Bennington region. The artists and objects featured in this exhibit are all either local or have a local significance. Since the whole point of this exhibit was to draw things from Storage, the usual highlights that people are used to seeing are not on the surveys. We still have an entire gallery of Grandma Moses paintings for people to enjoy, but we do have an option for people to pick their favorite piece by a relative of hers (many of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews painted).
Can the audience expect to see mixed media?
Oh yes, this is a very mixed bag of stuff. Objects range from oil paintings to commemorative buttons, and include carved fungi, blown glass, militia uniforms, a cap made from human hair, flags, a mermaid costume, commemorative buttons, photographs, a birdcage, wedding gowns, ceramics, and a wide range of other interesting things.
Were there any challenges in putting the People’s Choice exhibition on?
It was really hard narrowing some of the categories down to just 5 choices! We have a lot of really fun stuff in the collection.