The Bennington Museum has something for everyone. There are wildflower trails, genealogical data archives, works by Grandma Moses, historical items, pottery, and frequently changing eclectic art displays. The museum also boasts the inclusion of one of the few Wasp touring cars from 1924 and one of the oldest stars and stripes flags in existence.
Probably the biggest draw to the museum is the extensive collection by Grandma Moses. The Bennington Museum hosts the largest publically accessible selection of works by Anna Mary Robertson Moses, who became known as ‘Grandma Moses’. She began painting when she was in her seventies and became one of America’s most noted and popular folk-art painters. During the 1950’s, her works were used to promote a variety of goods such as cameras, lipstick, and even instant coffee. Her exhibitions at the time were so popular they often broke attendance records. In addition to her paintings, the museum features some of her ‘yarn paintings’, art supplies, furniture, clothing, and photographs. One might note the photograph of her with a huge birthday cake. The cake was decorated by Norman Rockwell.
In addition to the Grandma Moses gallery, the Museum offers twelve other galleries. There is a military gallery which focuses on the battle of Bennington and also includes an exhibit of Vermont-made firearms. There is a pottery gallery which traces pottery made in the area since the 1700’s. There are several changing exhibits which currently include the 150th anniversary of the Jane Stickle Quilt, Southern Vermont in the Civil War, and works by Daisy Rockwell.
Another exhibit one may view while at the Bennington Museum would be the exhibit on glass. An entire gallery room is devoted to metal and glass works, many by Lewis Comfort Tiffany. The pieces hail from Vermont’s gilded age when Bennington was a leading industrial town and economic prosperity boomed.
Outside the museum, one may walk along the George Aiken Wildflower Trail. The trail is one-third of a mile long and is intended to showcase the native wildflowers that former Governor Aiken wrote about and loved. There are benches along the trail which is open to the public free of charge.
Also outside the museum is The Lincoln Trilogy (The American Spirit) statue in bronze by Clyde du Vernet Hunt. The statue, listed in several sources as one of the creepiest statues of Lincoln ever made, is actually three statues combined. The sculptor combined three of his works, Lincoln, Nirvana, and Fils de France to portray his ideals of Faith, Hope, and Charity. The concept behind the statue appears to have been more successful than the actual statue itself. The visual relationship between the three pieces is awkward at best.
Despite the unique awkwardness of the Lincoln statue, the Bennington Museum holds something for everyone. Even if your ‘something’ is nothing other than viewing a piece of weird Americana, the museum is a must-stop for anyone finding themselves even remotely close to Bennington, Vermont.