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Berkshire Museum Names 2014 Berkshire Award Recipients

02:03PM / Monday, February 10, 2014
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Museum will present the second annual Berkshire Awards to three honorees who have made significant contributions to creating, keeping and promoting artistic, historical, and natural heritage in the Berkshires.

The honorees are the Nash Family, Berkshire County philanthropists and supporters of arts and culture; Frances Jones-Sneed, historian and professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts; and George S. Wislocki, founding executive director of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.

They will be honored at an awards ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 21, at the museum.

"We are proud to recognize, for the second year, a group of individuals who have made a significant contribution to preserving our cultural and natural heritage here in the Berkshires," said William M. Hines Jr., president of the museum's board of trustees. "The Berkshire Museum is dedicated to exploring art, history and natural science, making the presentation of the Berkshire Awards a natural outgrowth of our mission."

Suzanne Nash is a trustee of the museum and member of the Collections and Nominating Committees. She and her late husband, Kenneth, and their three sons Seth, Mitch and Leo, have actively supported local arts and culture for years, including Community Access to the Arts, the Colonial Theatre, IS183, Jacob's Pillow, Massachusets Museum of Contemporary Art, Tanglewood and the WordxWord festival. They have made significant donations to the Berkshire Museum, including to the capital campaign for renovations completed in 2008.

Seth and Mitch Nash are the owners of Blue Q and their contributions to the museum include the design and installation of the Vend-O-Mat in 1999 and work on the Warehouse Ball committees, and as underwriters of the Little Cinema. Leo Nash is an artist and photographer and recently was a guest curator for the current exhibition "Objectify: A Look Into the Permanent Collection."

Jones-Sneed has been instrumental in discovering and documenting the heritage of the black community in Western Massachusetts. An accomplished author and historian, she was an associate editor for the book "African-American Heritage in the Upper Housatonic Valley" and is currently working on books about two significant individuals from the Berkshires, the Rev. Samuel Harrison and W.E.B. Du Bois.

She received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2006 for her project "The Shaping Role of Place: An African-American Biography" and, in 2011, led an NEH Summer Institute (co-sponsored by MCLA) on "The Role of Place in African-American Biography." She was co-director of the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail Advisory Council, which created the first African-American Heritage Trail in Western New England and is a member of the Samuel Harrison Society and the Friends of the Du Bois Homesite Committee. She has served on the board of Mass Humanities and is currently facilitating a yearlong series of talks, films, performances and discussions at MCLA called "Creating Equality," funded by the NEH, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the start of the Civil Rights Movement.

Wislocki assisted the late Donald B. Miller, the former publisher of the Berkshire Eagle, in founding the Berkshire Natural Resources Council in 1967. The charitable land conservation organization seeks to preserve and protect land, especially the farms, forests, streams and ridgelines. Wislocki was asked to serve as the first director, and was thereafter president, a position he held until his retirement in 2001. The BNRC today protects more than 19,027 acres.

One of the BNRC's first acquisitions under the state's Conservation Restriction Act was a conservation restriction on nearly 2,000 acres of woodlands that belonged to the Frederick Crane family of Dalton. Perhaps his greatest legacy to the Berkshires is Olivia's Overlook and the ongoing preservation of Yokun Ridge, a defining landmark of Central Berkshire County. Over the years, Wislocki has worked with hundreds of landowners, negotiating agreements to conserve many thousands of acres of pristine land.

"The Berkshires are well established as a place where nature and culture intersect, resulting in the extraordinarily creative and innovative community we inhabit," said Van Shields, Berkshire Museum's executive director. "Our goal in honoring the Berkshire Award recipients is to celebrate those people who have contributed to the quality of life we enjoy today and inspire others to follow in their footsteps."

Sponsorships and tickets for the Berkshire Award are now available. For more information: contact Bill Blaauw at 413-443-7171, Ext. 37, or at wblaauw@berkshiremuseum.org.
 


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