PITTSFIELD — This summer, the Berkshire County Historical Society at Herman Melville's Arrowhead is taking a deep dive into the region's cultural and social history.
Beginning in July, the historical society will examine mid-19th-century rituals and objects related to death and dying in the Berkshires and beyond. "Lifting the Veil: Customs Surrounding Mourning in the Berkshires," which opens July 10 at Arrowhead looks at the historic practices surrounding death, burial, and those left behind. BCHS collections will be featured in this exhibit, including objects not regularly on view to the public.
In August, a collaboration between the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans and the Berkshire Museum, that includes BCHS, the Bidwell House Museum, Stockbridge Library, Trustees of the Reservations, Housatonic Heritage and Williams College, "Muh-he-con-ne-ok: People of the Waters that are Never Still" will open at the Berkshire Museum. The exhibition will showcase the past, present and future of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community by presenting historic and contemporary objects combined with oral and written histories. The show, at the Berkshire Museum, will run Aug. 1 through Jan. 9, 2022.
The deep dive won't stop there. Throughout the summer, the historical society will host a series of events that celebrate Melville's most famous work, "Moby-Dick," and some of these will re-examine his life and legacy and re-imagine his relationship with Nathaniel Hawthorne, while also celebrating contemporary writers and artists.
In addition, BCHS is now open for guided tours of Arrowhead, Thursdays through Mondays. Tours begin at 10 a.m. with the last tour starting at 3 p.m. Special events and exhibitions taking place at Arrowhead will be presented in the newly renovated historic barn and on the grounds.
BCHS’s grounds and nature trails at Arrowhead are open free-of-charge, year-round during daylight hours. Dogs must be leashed at all times and owners must clean up after their pets. Motorized vehicles are not allowed except for in the driveway and parking lot. Metal detectors are prohibited.
Guided tours of Arrowhead are: $16, adults; $14, seniors; $10, students; free for children 12 and under. BCHS members receive free admission. BCHS participates in the Card to Culture program, which extends free admission to EBT, WIC, and Connector Care health plan insurance card holders. Visit mobydick.org for more information.
2021 Summer Season At A Glance
"Lifting the Veil: Customs Surrounding Mourning in the Berkshires": July 10 through October at Arrowhead.
This exhibition examines mid-19th century rituals and objects related to death and dying in the Berkshires and beyond. "Lifting the Veil" looks at the historic practices surrounding death, burial, and those left behind. BCHS collections will be featured in this exhibit, including objects not regularly on view to the public. Free with admission.
"Muh-he-con-ne-ok: People of the Waters that are Never Still": Aug. 1 through Jan. 9, 2022, at the Berkshire Museum
The past, present and future of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community is explored with historic and contemporary objects combined with oral and written histories. Presented at the Berkshire Museum in collaboration with the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, Berkshire County Historical Society, Bidwell House Museum, Stockbridge Library, Trustees of the Reservations, Housatonic Heritage and Williams College. Admission: $13, adults; $6 for children ages 4 to 17.
SPECIAL EVENTS AND PROGRAMS
7 p.m., June 7: Fundraiser Launch Party Moby-Dick Audio Book
"During the pandemic I spent my time bringing as much great literature out on audio as possible" says award-winning audiobook producer Alison Larkin whose company Alison Larkin Presents is based in West Stockbridge. "I had a hunch it was time for a truly accessible recording of Moby-Dick, so we hired the popular Berkshire actor Jonathan Epstein whose narration is truly mesmerizing." Limited tickets are available for this special reading and Q&A with Epstein and the producers of this epic new recording of Moby-Dick. To download and listen to the audiobook, visit alisonlarkinpresents.com. $20, BCHS members; $25 non-members. Tickets available at berkshire-county-historical-society.square.site
6:30 p.m., June 17: Melville Biographical Research Lecture: Warren Broderick
Join Melville scholar and New York State retired archivist Warren Broderick as he presents newly discovered original source documents that will shed light on Melville’s life and work. Learn about previously unknown records that bear Herman’s signature as well as the first published reference to a missing novel. Free for BCHS members; $10, non-members. Tickets available online at mobydick.org or by phone at 413-442-1793.
7 p.m., June 27: Victorian Quadrille Orchestra
The Victorian Quadrille Orchestra presents dance music from the Civil War and Victorian era. The orchestra invites you back to a time before electronics and recorded music as they perform original music written in the 1800s using authentic instrumentation. Hear quadrilles, lancers, polkas, waltzes, reels and more. Free. Program sponsored by the Pittsfield Cooperative Bank.
July 1–15: Mastheads Writers’ Residency
The Mastheads is a writers’ residency program that creates a dialogue about place through literature and architecture. Five original architectural spaces serve as studios for selected writers-in-residence to produce new work each summer. Each space is inspired by an American author who produced work in and around Pittsfield – Melville, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Longfellow, and Holmes Sr. The studios remind us of the past while providing a platform for new creativity. Visit themastheads.org for more information.
6 p.m., July 10: Mastheads Final Readings
The fifth-annual reading of new work by Mastheads authors in the historic Arrowhead barn. Free.
3 p.m., July 11: Reading — Caroline Hellman: 'Children of the Raven and the Whale: Visions and Revisions in American Literature'
"Children of the Raven and the Whale: Visions and Revisions in American Literature" (University of Virginia Press, 2019) looks at how contemporary United States writers have responded to texts that were historically central to the American literary canon, including Melville's "Moby-Dick." In their rewritings and layering of new stories over older ones, contemporary writers chronicle a spectrum of American experience, and appraise the project of the United States. This talk will explore Melville's influence on the work of author Ta-Nehisi Coates, in addition to discussing the larger landscape of American literature today. $10, BCHS members; $15, non-members
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., July 24 and 25: Guild of Berkshire Artists Art Show
"Art@Arrowhead: A Whale of a Show!" showcases the works of local and regional artists around the theme of Stories in Art. The show is a great opportunity to support local artists by purchasing their work.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m., July 31 through Aug. 4: Moby-Dick Fifth Annual Read-A-Thon
“Call me Ishmael” and sign up to read part of Melville’s masterpiece on the site where it was written. Come on your own or bring a group to read with us until we finish the book. $5, recommended donation.
9 a.m., Aug. 1: Herman Melville’s Birthday and Monument Mountain Hike
Celebrate the day (Aug. 4, 1850) when Melville met Hawthorne on a hike up Monument Mountain. Read the poem they read together at the summit and share sparkling wine (they had champagne). Meet in the parking lot at Monument Mountain, off Route 7 in Great Barrington. Free.
4 p.m., Aug. 5: Berkshire County Historical Society Fundraiser at Morewood Lake
Celebrate summer and local history with an evening by Morewood Lake at the Country Club of Pittsfield. The evening includes a short play reading remembering Sarah Morewood, the lady of Broad Hall, whose estate was sold to the club’s founders. Heavy hors d'oeuvres included; cash bar available. Tickets available at mobydick.org.
7 p.m., Aug 13 -15: 'ReWritten'
"ReWritten" is an immersive performance that explores the often-silenced intimate relationship between authors Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. Moving between their lives, work, and remaining letters, "ReWritten" reimagines an intergenerational queer love story that helped shape American literature. Through dance, live music, visual art, projection, and text this performance questions what happens when we say no to dreams when we want to say yes. Co-created and performed by Tom Truss and Matthew Cumbie. $10, BHS members; $15,non-members/ Use your EBT card and get 50 percent off. Free for 12 and under.
3 to 6 p.m., Sept. 5: Lecture and Film Screening: Professor Michael Hoberman and the film “Call Us Ishmael,” directed by Dr. David Shaerf
Michael Hoberman, an American literature professor at Fitchburg State University, will make his case that Melville is an ideal writer for people who describe themselves as skeptical romantics. His talk highlights his own path to Melville's writing, and it will also offer a brief discussion of how he teaches two lesser-known texts ("Benito Cereno" and "The Encantadas"). Call Us Ishmael chronicles filmmaker David Shaerf's journey into the world of Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Throughout his quest he encounters artists, musicians, professors and performers, all of whom are singularly seeking the white whale. Call Us Ishmael gives viewers an insight into a community devoted to this timeless text. $15, BCHS members; $20, non-members.