Inspired by the Berkshires: Autumn in Western Massachusetts


September 19 – 22, 2019

For centuries, the timeless beauty of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts has lured those seeking peaceful respite and creative inspiration. John Sargeant was the first European to settle among Native American tribes, placing his mission upon “Eden Hill” in Stockbridge in 1739. In 1761, Sir Francis Bernard, governor of the Massachusetts colony, named the area in honor of his home region in England. The Berkshires would later provide a safe haven for Shakers fleeing religious persecution, and their contributions are still visible there today. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Berkshires became a summer retreat for wealthy New York, Philadelphia, and Boston-based families, who built such estates as Naumkeag and Chesterwood. Famous American writers, musicians, and artists also flocked to the Berkshires, including Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Cullen Bryant, and Edith Wharton. Abstract artists George L.K. Morris and Suzy Frelinghuysen lived there in the 1940s and Norman Rockwell moved to Stockbridge in 1953, using many of the locals for inspiration in his iconic representations of Americana. Come experience a fall weekend full of Berkshires history and beauty with the Decorative Arts Trust!


SYMPOSIUM SCHEDULE  (subject to amendment)

Thursday, September 19

Red Lion Inn

  • Opening Remarks
  • Country Houses of the Berkshires 1870-1930
    Richard Jackson, Independent Scholar and Author
  • Opening Reception at the Red Lion
    Sponsored in part by:

Friday, September 20

Red Lion Inn

  • Mabel Choate Goes Shopping: Furnishing the Mission House, 1928-1930
    Brock Jobe, Professor Emeritus, Winterthur Program in American Material Culture
  • The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture
    Polishing the Masterpieces: Garden Conservation as Fine Art
    Cindy Brockway, Program Director for Cultural Resources, The Trustees of Reservations
  • A Comparison of Two Great American Houses: Naumkeag and the Mount
    Pauline Metcalf, Independent Scholar
  • Lunch in Stockbridge
  • Our afternoon tours explore two important historic houses.
    • Naumkeag House and Gardens is a Stanford White designed home that was built in 1886 for U.S. ambassador and New York attorney Joseph Hodges Choate. Beautiful gardens surround the home, which is full of fine art and antiques.
    • Broke Jobe leads a furniture workshop at Mission House. This Colonial-era house and museum was home to Rev. John Sargeant, the first Christian missionary to the Mohican people. Originally, on Prospect Hill, the landmark building was carefully disassembled, moved, and restored by Mabel Choate in the 1920s and 30s. The house contains an outstanding collection of 18th-century American furniture and decorative arts.
  • Tours Conclude

Saturday, September 21

Lenox, Pittsfield, and Stockbridge

  • We begin our day at The Mount Estate and Gardens, the former home of Edith Wharton, Gilded-Age critic and author of The House of Mirth (1905) and The Age of Innocence (1920). Located in Lenox on 113 acres, the Georgian-style house features both Italian and French architectural details. It is hidden behind an allée of sugar maples and has an Italianate garden. The Berkshires offered the author “country cares and joys, long happy rides and drives through the wooded lanes…, the companionship of a few dear friends, and the freedom from trivial obligations” to complete her writing.
  • We venture to the nearby Frelinghuysen-Morris House & Studio, the former home of abstract artists George L.K. Morris and Suzy Frelinghuysen located on a 46-acre estate. Frelinghuysen and Morris selected furniture by Modern masters Frankl, Deskey, and Aalto to complete the harmony of art, architecture, and design. The house also features their artwork alongside Cubist contemporaries Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Leger.
12:00 noon
  • Departing Lenox, we travel to Pittsfield for lunch and tours at Hancock Shaker Village, established in 1791. A living-history museum with over 20 authentic buildings, the village presents rich collections of furniture, rotating exhibits, and a working farm with extensive gardens and heritage-breed livestock.
  • We return to the Stockbridge area and the Rockwell Museum, which houses the world’s largest and most significant collection of the artist’s work. Rockwell lived in Stockbridge for the last 25 years of his life. The Museum also houses the Norman Rockwell Archives, a collection of more than 100,000 manuscripts and photographs.
  • We venture down the road to Chesterwood, the studio and summer residence of American sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850–1931). Most of French’s estate is now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which operates the property as a museum and sculpture garden.

Sunday, September 22

Red Lion Inn

  • The John A.H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture
    “Glass That Decorates”: The History, Designers, and Stained Glass of the Church Glass and Decorating Company of New York
    Amber Wingerson, Curatorial Assistant, Cape Ann Museum
  • Curating Color: A Fascinating Journey in Three Conservation Projects
    Christie Jackson, Senior Curator, The Trustees of Reservations
  • Avoiding the Obvious: Lawrence Bloedel & Collecting Modern
    Mark Wilson, Curator, The Trustees of Reservations
  • The Marie Zimmermann Emerging Scholar Lecture
    Modern in the Mountains: Mid-Century Design in the Berkshires
    Rebecca Migdal, Independent Museum Consultant
12:00 noon
  • Symposium concludes


Thursday Optional Tour: Williamstown

Thursday, September 19

9:00am – 5:00pm

An early morning departure from the Red Lion Hotel permits a full-day of sightseeing at a number of cultural hotspots in the Williamstown area.

The Arrowhead Museum is the former home of the notable American author Herman Melville, who lived in the house during his most productive years (1850–1863) when he wrote Moby-Dick. The house remained in private hands until 1975, when the Berkshire County Historical Society acquired the house and a portion of the original 160-acre property. The Society restored the home to Melville’s period. It is now a National Historic Landmark.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is an art museum and research center focused on European and American paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, and decorative arts from the 14th to the early 20th centuries. Curators take Trust members on intimate tours to study highlights in the extraordinary collection.

The Williams College Museum of Art was established in 1926 by Karl Weston, an art history professor who made it his mission to provide students with a place where they could experience art directly, rather than solely through slides or in textbooks. Today the WCMA features a growing collection, encompassing more than 14,000 works, with particular strengths in contemporary art, photography, and prints.

Designed in 2006 by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, the Williamstown Conservation Center is a state-of-the-art conservation facility located at the Clark’s Stone Hill Center. The WACC offers consultation and treatment for the preservation of a full range of artworks and artifacts and advanced scientific analysis. Their talented team of conservators offers behind-the-scenes access to current ongoing projects.

Registration is limited.

Sunday Optional Tour:  Sheffield and Great Barrington

Sunday, September 22

12:00 noon – 7:00pm

Following lunch, we begin our afternoon with tours at the Bidwell House Museum, constructed in the 1760s by the Reverend Adonijah Bidwell, the first minister in the township. At that time, the house was the demographic center and located on the route of the Boston-Albany Post Road. A classic Georgian Saltbox built around a central chimney, the house has two additions, a rear ell and a Greek Revival-style carriage barn, and is furnished with antiques appropriate to the 1784 inventory of Reverend Bidwell’s estate.

We are invited to the home of Virginia and John Demos. Dr. Demos is the Samuel Knight Professor of American History Emeritus at Yale University and has written extensively on early American life from the Pilgrims landing in Plymouth in 1620 to the 1800s. The Demos’ “country Georgian” house, c. 1800, was constructed from bricks produced in the region and features the fruits of over 35 years of collecting.

The respected antiques dealers Grace and Elliott Snyder welcome members to tour their home. The pair deal in a wide variety of 17th- through early-19th-century material, and specialize in 18th-century American vernacular furniture in old or original finish, textiles, and lighting. Grace began as a collector of 17th-century English needlework but soon expanded her interest to American needlework of the 18th and 19th centuries, and to American hooked and sewn rugs.

We conclude our day at the home of world-renowned interior designer Bunny Williams. In addition to renovating and decorating the Federal-style house, Bunny has created an oasis in her backyard, consisting of multiple gardens. Filled with sumptuous antiques and modern touches, her stunning home features favorite things, old and new.

Registration is limited.


Benefit Fundraiser for the Emerging Scholars Program at Orleton Farm

Friday, September 20


Among the largest and most impressive forms of decorative art from the 18th and 19th centuries are the horse-drawn coaches that plied urban streets and country roads. We have the privilege of visiting the renowned collection of antique carriages at Orleton Farm, the home of Mary and Harvey Waller. While the Wallers’ extensive collection is displayed in a museum setting, the carriages are brought out for rides and competitions with the help of a stable of horses and ponies. Perhaps the most heralded example in their holdings is “Old Times” an English carriage that set a record in 1888 for making a round-trip drive between London and Brighton in less than 8 hours. A portion of the collection descended in Mrs. Waller’s family, which purchased Orleton Farm in 1901.

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast to our host’s hospitality and lend support to the Trust’s efforts to encourage the next generation of curators and academics through a growing series of grants, scholarships, and internships. In 2019, more than four dozen graduate students and young professionals benefited from the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program.

Registration is limited.

  • The Red Lion, Stockbridge, MA
    Special Room Rates: $225. The Trust has reserved a block of rooms for September 18-23. These rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis until July 18. Please make your reservation as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling (413)298-1690 and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust 2019 Symposium. Cancellations must be made seven days prior to arrival to avoid penalty.
  • Stockbridge is 1 hour from the Albany airport and 1:15 from the Hartford airport. Bus service is available from NYC and Boston. Parking at the Red Lion is free.

Terms and Conditions

Registration fee:
$675 per person, which includes all lectures, tours, meals, receptions, and transportation referenced in symposium brochure as well as a $25 tax-deductible donation to the Dewey Lee Curtis Scholarship Fund to underwrite symposium scholarships for graduate students or young professionals. Participants may elect to make an additional donation to the Curtis Fund through registration.

Student and Young Professional fee:
$325 per person. This opportunity is limited to current graduate students and professionals working in the museum field who are less than 5 years from the completion of a college or graduate degree. The Trust also awards at least 2 scholarships for graduate students and young professionals. Applications can be submitted through the Trust’s website and are due by August 9.

Optional programs:
The Thursday and Sunday optional tours are $250 per person. The Saturday evening fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program is $250 per person, fully tax deductible. These fees include transportation, admission, and food and beverage as referenced in the symposium brochure. Registration for optional programs is limited. Registration for optional programs is limited.

Membership: All participants must be members of the Decorative Arts Trust. Please select a level of membership if you are not currently a member. For a list of membership benefits, visit Members at the Sponsor level and above are invited to a special event during the symposium.

By registering for this symposium, I/we do hereby release The Decorative Arts Trust from any and all liability in connection with the symposium, Inspired by the Berkshires: Autumn in Western Massachusetts, for any loss, delay, injury, or damage to or in respect to any person or property however the cause for arising. It is understood that The Decorative Arts Trust has acted as agent for me/us in providing means of transportation or other services and The Decorative Arts Trust is not to be held responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time I am/we are participating in this program, and this evidences my/our understanding that The Decorative Arts Trust has not now, nor will have in the future, any liability to me/us due to any consequences arising out of said program or in connection with said program.

Cancellation and Refund:
All cancellations received prior to June 19 are subject to a full refund less a $50 administrative fee per person. Participants canceling between June 20 and August 12 will receive a 50% refund. Refunds will not be made after August 12.


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