Berkshires Beat: Berkshire Museum Extends 'Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion'
da Vinci continues
"Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion" at the Berkshire Museum has been extended through September 8 due to popular demand. Since opening on Feb. 9, the exhibit as driven increased visitor volume, drawing nearly 50 percent more visits this winter and spring than during the same period in 2018. The exhibition, which was scheduled to end May 19, will now continue through the busy summer tourism season, ending after Labor Day.
"Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion" combines the drawings and mechanical inventions of one of the world's greatest thinkers with the history of his life in a hands-on experience for all ages. Museum visitors are invited to use cranks, levers and pulleys to test many of the 40 full-size working models of Leonardo da Vinci's innovative designs featured in the exhibition including a printing press, crane and early odometer. Several of Leonardo's flying machines, a wooden battle tank, and a Renaissance robot are also on view. The exhibition is a Feigenbaum Innovative Experience, which is a multi-year series of engaging, interdisciplinary programming, generously sponsored by the Feigenbaum Foundation.
The exhibit's extended run also affords additional time for area students to test Leonardo's mechanisms and design their own simple machines in the Museum’s educator-led program, da Vinci Machines. Since Feb. 9, more than 1,600 students have visited the exhibit free of charge thanks to the underwriting support of Greylock Federal Credit Union, the Beauregard Family, and the Berkshire community. Since school visits became free to any teacher, teaching any grade, at any school at the start of the 2018-2019 school year, groups from more than 87 schools have utilized the program, 30 of them visiting the museum for the first time.
Charlotte Green recently brought her class from Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield to experience the exhibition as part of their study of the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci, and his innovations. "It was great for students to see many of the inventions they had read about demonstrated in physical form," she said, noting that her ninth-grade students "love to interact with the exhibits, too."
The 40 machines in the exhibit were meticulously crafted by scientists and skilled artisans in collaboration with the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Florence, Italy, and inspired by designs from the Renaissance thinker’s notebooks. The exhibit includes several large-scale models including a life-sized armored tank and a glider. The models are fabricated with careful attention to the types of materials that would have been used in Leonardo's era and are described in his manuscripts. Faithfully adhering to artist's instructions and utilizing the tools of his time, they are hand-crafted with wood, rope, and glue. Graphic displays and videos explain the life and legacy of Leonardo, and provide context for his inventiveness and designs. The History Channel video, Da Vinci & The Code He Lived By, plays in one of the galleries.
Elks Lodge donation
Members of the Bennington Lodge 567 donated a portion of their 150th anniversary grant to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, a part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care. The donation amount, $250, was chosen to reflect both organizations' years of existence.
The 150th Anniversary Grant comes from the Elks National Foundation, which was established in 1928 to serve others. Some of the 115-year-old Bennington Lodge’s original members were among the fund's founding contributors.
"We are delighted by this contribution by our local Elks," said Leslie Keefe, the vice president for Corporate Development at SVHC. "We identify with their rich history in the community and their dedicated service to others, and we will put their generous gift to meaningful use in service of patients."
Board members of The Lenox Education Enrichment Foundation has selected nine grant recipients. LEEF’s mission is to enrich the education of students in the Lenox Public Schools by underwriting programs that enhance the curriculum, encourage creativity and innovation, and grow the school and community partnership.
"Growing Carbon: Measuring and Quantifying Forest Carbon Sequestration" is an experimental tree stand analysis program (proposed by Mass Audubon) where students will create a forest inventory, calculate the amount of carbon stored and compare the monetary value of the trees as lumber versus the trees as carbon offsets sold on the market. This interdisciplinary program will allow students to use mathematical and economic frameworks to put their work in context with global climate change mitigation efforts.
"Kindergarten Gardens," in collaboration with Berkshire Botanical Garden, will allow students to embark on a series of hands-on, service learning projects including the construction of worm composting bins for each kindergarten classroom and the establishment of a new herb garden near the Morris Elementary School's entrance. Students will learn about plants, practice cooking skills, and engage in environmental stewardship. The creation of bins encourages students to explore biological communities and their processes, while reducing food waste.
"We Are" is an interdisciplinary project encouraging students to investigate the rich diversity of people within our community. Twenty-five photographic posters will be on display as a traveling exhibit. Images along with a written component will illustrate how each individual chosen for the project "matters." Posters will travel to public and religious spaces with a focus on growing respect and tolerance for one another and ourselves.
Additional grant recipients include Community Access to the Arts providing additional creative arts opportunities to students with special needs; Food Adventures, where students prep and cook their own delicious, healthy, kid-friendly recipes while learning about food, kitchen safety, nutrition, balanced food choices, and the value of local farms in our region; How Does Wind & Water Shape the Land?, a field learning initiative at Bartholomew's Cobble where students explore, model and experiment with the effects of wind and water on the land; the 2019 LMMHS International Fair, an event exploring the cultural aspects of countries from the Eastern and Western Hemispheres through art, music, food samplings and dance; Mask Workshops at LMMHS, where classes will feature the use of expressive masks for actor training and as a means of exploring and creating new theater works; and Montreal 2019, a trip for juniors and seniors who have immersed themselves in the French language and culture to travel to Montreal and see their studies come alive.
Hancock Shaker Village, CATA grants
Two local nonprofit organizations have received $200,000 grants, the highest level awarded, from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund.
Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield will use the grant money to help renovate the second floor of the village's visitor center as a state-of-the-art collection storage facility and as classroom space. The Shakers settled in West Pittsfield in 1783, eventually becoming a community that sprawled across Richmond, Hancock, and West Pittsfield. The last Shakers left the Berkshires in 1959, and the village became a museum in 1960. Hancock Shaker Village celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2020.
Community Access to the Arts will use the grant to purchase and renovate a new facility to establish a permanent home for the organization - one that is fully accessible and allows CATA to continue growing innovative arts programs for people with disabilities. Since 1993, CATA has brought over 20,000 life-changing arts workshops to more than 2,000 people with disabilities throughout Berkshire County. With support from the CFF, CATA's new home will double existing studio space, establishing two separate arts studios—one for visual art and writing, and the other for dance and performing arts. The home will embody the principles of Universal Design, making the facility accessible to every person.
CATA has launched the CATA Forward Capital Campaign to raise funds to support the purchase and renovation of the new facility, and to support pilot programs serving artists with disabilities across Berkshire and Columbia counties. A groundbreaking for the new facility will he held on June 10 at 420 Stockbridge Road, where the organization will announce more details about the project and campaign.
In addition to the Capital grant, the CFF has also awarded CATA a $7,000 Systems Replacement Plan (SRP) grant to support long-term planning for the new facility.
In total, the MassDevelopment Board of Directors approved $9.27 million in new grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, a state program that provides capital and planning grants to nonprofits, colleges, and municipalities that own or operate facilities primarily focused on the arts, humanities, and sciences. This year’s awards include 64 capital grants totaling more than $8.7 million and another 29 planning grants totaling more than $500,000. Grants range from $7,000 to $200,000 and must be matched one-to-one from private and/or other public sources.