Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

Enjoy Museum Day to kick off the school year

Date: 8/26/2009

HOLYOKE On Sept. 26, Wistariahurst Museum will participate in the fifth annual Museum Day, presented by Smithsonian Magazine. A celebration of culture, learning and the dissemination of knowledge, Smithsonian's Museum Day reflects the spirit of the magazine, and emulates the free-admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution's Washington, D.C.- based properties. Doors will be open free of charge to Smithsonian Magazine readers and visitors at museums and cultural institutions nationwide, including Holyoke's Wistariahurst Museum.

Last year, upwards of 200,000 people attended Museum Day, with all 50 states plus Puerto Rico represented by over 900 participating museums, including 84 Smithsonian affiliate museums. This year, the magazine expects to attract over 1,000 museums.

"Wistariahurst Museum is pleased to be a partner in Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day. This collaborative effort is an open invitation for community members to experience and enjoy the multitude of cultural offerings," Melissa Boisselle, Wistariahurst Museum director, said.

Wistariahurst was originally the home of prominent silk manufacturer William Skinner and his family. The Skinner name was world famous for the company William Skinner & Sons silk mills in Holyoke.

The property is named for the expansive wisteria vines that cover the mansion. The house has stood as an example of elegance and fine architecture since 1874. The buildings and grounds were owned continually by the Skinner family until 1959, when Katharine Skinner Kilborne, the youngest child of William and Sarah Skinner, and her heirs gave Wistariahurst to the city of Holyoke for cultural and educational purposes.

This year celebrates Wistariahurst's 50th anniversary as a museum. Today, Wistariahurst reflects the lives and tastes of both generations of the Skinner family. The museum features original leather wall coverings, columns, elaborate woodwork and an interesting tale of how two generations perceived and used the house very differently. The museum's permanent collection includes decorative arts, paintings and prints, textiles and a rich manuscript collection of family and local papers. Wistariahurst Museum offers historic house tours, a visual arts gallery, a garden restoration and a wide variety of programs and events including workshops, concerts, lectures and demonstrations.

On Sept. 26 from 1 to 3 p.m. Wistariahurst Museum will present the program "Soul of a People: Voices from the Writers' Project Oral History Program." Experience oral histories from the Writers' Project Slave Narratives and American Life Histories. From 1936 to 1938, over 2,000 former slaves were interviewed by writers of the Works Progress Administration. Listen to Enchanted Circle Theater's actors dramatically read narratives that depict a texture of life that is gone today.

Attendees must present a Museum Day Admission Card to gain free entry to participating institutions. Each card provides museum access for two people, and one admission card is permitted per household. Listings and links to participating museums' and sponsors' sites can also be found at The general public is welcome to participate by going to the Web site and downloading the Museum Day Admission Card.