A Visit To The Bennington Museum’s “Haunted Vermont” Exhibit

Shirley Jackson’s books, and her Poe Award at the Bennington Museum.

Two museums in one week.  I feel blessed.

I wanted to get to the Bennington Museum while their Haunted Vermont exhibit was still up.  It runs through December, so there was plenty time, but I often miss an exhibit thinking just that.

What I mostly wanted to see was the Shirley Jackson exhibit included in the show.

It was small, a collection of her books both hardcover and paperback, a letter she had written saying at the end that the cat took her pen.  Some of her cat sculptures, an old phonograph that she claimed played a certain song by itself and the typed pages of one of her stories.

One of Jackson’s typed pages from a story with corrections.

We were teenagers when my sister who told me about Shirley Jackson’s book We Have Always Lived In The Castle.  After that I started reading her short stories.  I’ve read The Haunting Of Hill House at different times in my life and every time I see something about myself in it that I hadn’t before.  It was only a few years ago that I discovered Jackson’s writings about family and her own life.

Her stories seem timeless to me even though they are often set in a particular time and place. Her writing is simple and direct, yet her ideas complex and insightful.

Victorian Hair Jewelry

One of my favorite galleries in the  Museum is the room filled with glass cases and small artifacts from everyday life.

I am always stunned by the intricacy and detail of the Victorian hair jewelry.  And I never get tired of looking at the sewing notions from the same period.

A tape measure, thimble and needle holder.

I don’t know how practical the pin cushion is, but it’s pretty sweet.

Pin cushion

Every time I’ve visited the museum, the gallery on the first floor has an exhibit about present day Vermont.  That’s where I saw the needlework by Ray Materson which speaks to the public image of Vermont as  a wholesome place compared to the reality of it’s problems with drugs and poverty.

As small as it is, (only about 2 inch high), it makes a big impact.  It pulled me out of the past into the true horrors of today.

Vermont Mother In Turmoil By Ray Materson

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