Hilltown Families


In shade gardens across the Hilltowns, Lily-of-the-Valley makes its debut in mid to late May. This delicate, fragrant flower is rich in folklore and goes by many names. Learning through the lens of Lily-of-the-Valley, let the different names of this spring flower start as your guide for learning this week…

The maple tree and sugar season have been a source of inspiration for artists and poets in New England. Here we take a look at Western Massachusetts landscape painter, Robert Strong Woodward (1885-1957), and contemporary poet, Hannah Fries. In the early 1900’s, Woodward captures a typical New England scene that one can still witness driving along the same road in the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. And Fries takes the seasonality of New England living and rural life to describe a shared sentiment felt by two people in love in her poetry. See and read the influences of the maple tree and seasonal living in art and literature in the region.

Really want to entrench yourself in local art history? Then paint at the summit of Mt. Holyoke! The mountain (not the college!) is the site of Thomas Cole’s 1836 painting “View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm” (commonly known as “The Oxbow”). This painting depicts the Connecticut River Valley and highlights Cole’s interest in depicting two parts of the American landscape: pastoral farmland and wild forest.

In this month’s “Open Sesame,” Cheli presents five new picture books which honor women who made a difference in art, photography, science, sports media, and education.

In celebration of Black History Month, Norman Rockwell Museum has partnered with Google to share artworks and artifacts from its permanent collection, that illustrate Norman Rockwell’s dedication to civil rights.

Shedding light on an art form that’s constantly accessible to us, the new online resource Illustration History offers an in-depth look at the many genres of illustration and the artists who have made a significant contribution to the field. Families can use studies of illustration as a way to delve into studies of history, culture, technology, and economics, too!

Clark Art Institute’s Machine Age Modernism exhibition explores groundbreaking printmaking and offers community-based learning opportunity on art history. Exhibition opens February 28, 2015 in Williamstown, MA.

Famed artist Henri Matisse had particular style when it came to the line-work of his drawings. Amazingly you can actually go and see for yourself as Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley has landed the work of one of the all-time greats! This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone really, as Matisse has that amazing allure. Arts student will no doubt swoon at the opportunity, and so they should as Matisse was not only a genius but also an artistic trailblazer. A fantastic chance for young kids to be exposed to the original work of a bona fide artistic giant right here in the Pioneer Valley.

Imagine a historic fingerprint that goes back 6,000 years? The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum’s latest exhibition, “The Potter’s Tale: Contextualizing 6,000 Years of Ceramics,” draws the curtain back on some rich historic revelations via pottery!

Ceramics involved a craft directed towards both utilitarian and artistic purpose. Imagine how tools changed over the years and how different cultures influenced different forms at certain periods in history. This new exhibit is a treasure trove of historic insight that awaits all ages. Read on more information on this rare exhibit, and how to get the most from a visit.

Beautiful music is an aural delight. But every now and again you have a special situation where music and place just bind themselves together to create a truly memorable experience. The musical genius of composer Franz Schubert finds subtle and innovative acoustics at the Rotherwas Room at the Mead Museum in Amherst, through a remarkably creative sound installation. The room is the perfect historical ornate setting for masterful classical music that is wonderfully deconstructed through a system of five speakers that each represents a single instrument in a quintet! This is a very rare opportunity for people of all ages to appreciate the timeless genius of classical music and to feel it in a greater historical context. Read on to learn more about the exhibit and what supporting events are happening around it.

Springfield Museums explore Modern American Masterworks from O’Keefe to Rockwell and how artists in the 20th century depicted the emergence of individuality in America along with the challenge to existing social patterns in a new exhibit, “American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell.”

Use the exhibit as a opportunity to examine the work of many great artists, but also to explore ideas and images that represents periods in time and culture. When visiting this exhibit with your family, see if you can identify symbols of American tradition that are present in the works in this exhibition. Then stop and think what symbols might you use to express changes you’ve seen in your lifetime.

This fall, Amherst Cinema offers a rare opportunity to intimately explore the art of Johannes Vermeer, one of the great Dutch masters and painter of the beloved work, “The Girl With a Pearl Earring.” Three screenings of the film, “Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure,” will be of interest to students of music, art, and European history, and art lovers in general…

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