Arts & Culture Schools

North Bennet Street School Infuses Museum Collection with Contemporary Aesthetics

“Conversations in Craft”, a collaborative exhibition between Fruitlands Museum (operated by the Trustees of Reservations), and the acclaimed North Bennet Street School (NBSS), will open on Saturday, November 18, 2017 at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard. Organized by the Trustees, this exhibition will feature newly created, original pieces of wooden furniture made by master craftspeople from NBSS, alongside historic pieces of furniture hand-selected from the Trustees’ historic houses.

Photo courtesy of NBSS.

Thirteen NBSS participants worked closely with Christie Jackson, Senior Curator at the Trustees, to select a piece of historical furniture to respond to, and “answer” in a range of ways—not with copies or reproductions, but with a freshly-inspired, custom work. In some cases, the new pieces are a contemporary companion to an 18th or 19th-century object, such as a chair for a desk, but among the thirteen pairs is a sculptural floral carving that seems to bloom in response to bud-like inlay made in the 1820s. Each pair of objects—old and new—will be displayed together in the Art Gallery at Fruitlands Museum.

“We are so pleased to be working with North Bennet Street School on this unique exhibition. The process of curating this has truly been a conversation. We are exploring the stories of these historic objects and infusing them with contemporary interpretations by talented craftsmen. Throughout, we are celebrating the rich tradition of furniture making in New England that continues to this day.”
– Christie Jackson, Senior Curator at the Trustees

“We’re very excited to be a part of this exhibit, as there’s a shared appreciation of cultural heritage between our organization and The Trustees. It’s a heritage that’s not only in the past, but continues to be enriched by our generation,” said Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez, President of NBSS.  “There are people today who make fine furniture by hand, much like those who crafted the exquisite pieces from The Trustees collection,” he added. “These new objects are designed to endure—to last as long as the Fruitlands pieces have. Perhaps one day they’ll become heirlooms and collector’s pieces as well.”

The exhibit will run November 18th to March 25th at Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Rd, Harvard MA 01451. An opening reception will be held Saturday, December 2nd, from 2pm – 4pm with remarks at 3pm. Regular gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm – 5pm. 

Many of the new pieces created for the exhibit will be available for sale by the makers. The exhibit, which opens on Saturday, November 18, 2017 and runs through March 25, 2018 will feature a variety of public events, talks, and demonstrations at Fruitlands Museum throughout the winter and early spring. The first event will be an Open House and Reception on Saturday, December 2, with an opportunity to meet the artisans and curators. For a line-up of upcoming events and to check hours and times of operation, please visit

About Fruitlands Museum
Fruitlands Museum was acquired by The Trustees in 2016, adding a significant cultural property to the organization’s network of cultural, natural, and agricultural sites around the Commonwealth. This collaborative exhibition highlights furniture from its permanent collection and what it means to master craftspeople from Boston’s acclaimed NBSS.

Fruitlands was originally a utopian enclave, led by Transcendentalists Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane in the mid-1800s. Clara Endicott Sears, first drawn to the location by panoramic views of the Nashua River Valley, established a museum to preserve that history in 1914. In the decades since, the museum collection grew beyond the original Alcott Farmhouse to include the Shaker Museum, Native American Museum, and Art Museum. The Trustees hosts exhibitions, lectures, workshops and special events at the property year-round.