Museum marks half a century with celebrations
An image of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in the days leading up to the museum’s 50th anniversary celebration. Inset: The museum’s opening was front-page news for the <i>Brattleboro Reformer</i> on Sept. 11, 1972.

Museum marks half a century with celebrations

The festivities start with black-tie-optional Gala on Sept. 9 and continue with a free Birthday Bash on Sept. 10

BRATTLEBORO — An anchor of southern Vermont's cultural life, Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, which presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings, and other public programs, will celebrate its golden anniversary with a Gala and Birthday Bash next weekend.

The Gala, on Friday, Sept. 9 from 6 to 10 p.m., celebrates BMAC's 50 years with sparklers, live music by Jazzberry Jam, and an afterparty with DJ Keith Marks of Putney.

The black-tie-optional event will feature cocktails, appetizers, dinner, dessert, and a champagne toast catered by Wheelhouse Farm of Amherst, Mass., with beverages provided by Saxtons Distillery of Brattleboro.

The celebration includes a raffle drawing for a Paris getaway, a rare magnum of Screaming Eagle's 2018 “The Flight,” and an oil painting by Vermont artist Michael Abrams of Jamaica.

The Birthday Bash on Saturday, Sept. 10 is a daylong, free community celebration that starts at 11 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m.

Mara Williams, curator emerita and chair of the 50th anniversary committee, says she is most excited about the birthday bash.

“Kirsten Martsi, manager of education and community engagement programs at BMAC, has put together such a fun family day,” Williams says. “Kirsten contacted everyone in town who does programming for children to create a celebration of community and all things art.”

The party, in the galleries and on the grounds of the museum, will feature live music, art demos, birthday cupcakes, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and a beer garden hosted by Beer Naked Brewery of Marlboro and Snow Republic Brewery of West Dover.

First Proof Press will print custom 50th birthday tote bags on site. Brooks Memorial Library will offer miniature book-making and a poetry wall, and River Gallery School will lead a collaborative art project in the Community Sculpture Garden.

Local artists will include Charlie Hunter, Aaron Foster, Marta Bernbaum, David Eichelberger, and Daniel Chiaccio, with demonstrations including plein air painting, guitar making, glass, ceramics, screen printing, and more.

Musicians performing in the museum's sculpture garden will include The Eugene Uman Quartet, featuring saxophonist Matthew Steckler; Samirah Evans; Zara Bode's Little Big Band; Burlington-based African/hip-hop group A2VT; and the Vermont Jazz Center Sextet. Participants of all ages can have fun with giant bubbles, sidewalk chalk, face painting, lawn games, caricatures, and more.

“Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center is a hidden gem in our little corner of the world,” says Brenda Seitz, of Brattleboro, who has volunteered for the past six years at BMAC.

The museum, Seitz says, “provides a variety of exhibits that appeal to all ages and welcomes all. It's such a fun place to explore! I hope the 50th anniversary brings more people in to discover its many treasures.”

In an email to The Commons, Christie Herbert, of Dummerston, president of the museum's board of trustees, reflected on celebrations.

“It means so much to recognize the small and dedicated group of people who had the vision and foresight to save the train station building and begin the museum 50 years ago, and everyone else who went on to build the museum into the phenomenal place it is today,” she says.

“Our mission is 'to illuminate art and ideas in ways that inspire, inform, and connect people from all walks of life,'” Herbert says. “May we continue to do so for the next 50 years!”

All proceeds from the Gala will benefit BMAC, with two ticketing options available: $250 for a Gala ticket, which includes access to the entire event, including the dance party and open bar; or $50 for a “Dancing Under the Stars” ticket, which includes the dance party, late-night bites, and one complimentary drink.

Covid-19 vaccination is required.

Located in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142, the museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information on the 50th anniversary celebrations, call 802-257-0124 or visit

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