Tuesday, September 10, 2013


The Atheneum

Dearest Readers,

Step inside two unique Victorian museums near me in St. Johnsbury, VT (pop. 7,600), donated to the town by the local industrialist Fairbanks family in the late 1800’s.

The Atheneum library and museum is a celebration of art, learning, and the flamboyance of wood decoration and brick architecture. Go to the website for close-ups of the paintings and rooms.

The interior preserves a hallowed academic atmosphere alongside internet technologies. A docent is available for a tour of the Victorian landscape and children's storybook paintings and several Hudson River School pieces.
Library Museum with Bierstadt's Double Domes of Yosemite

Romantic Victorian painter Albert Bierstadt took liberties with this massive painting of the Domes of Yosemite, moving sights of interest to suit the composition.

Copy of a Rembrandt Self-Portrait

Copy of Raphael's Madonna and Child

I was at first amazed at the collection of paintings by Raphael and Rembrandt, but learned that they are all copies (in need of re-stretching). Perhaps creating great fakes was a learning tool for art appreciation in a time when few from such a small town could travel abroad.

Seymour Guy's Red Riding Hood -my favorite. "That way to Grandma's House"

The Fairbanks Museum

Let’s cross Main Street now to the Fairbanks Museum of Natural Science, a rusticated, red stone, Byzantine-style exterior enclosing a soaring, low-lit balconied hall jammed with curiosity cabinets.

Small section of the bird collection

 There’s a superabundance of 100+ year-old taxidermied birds and mammals from all over the world, including the now extinct passenger pigeon, ivory-billed woodpecker, and many endangered creatures.

Endangered and extinct animals from the collection

 I hate to think of all the hunting and killing involved in creating this museum, but I must admit two of my favorite pieces are a scary, dusty stuffed polar bear not protected by a glassed case, and a mosaic by John Hampson of President Lincoln delivering the Emancipation Proclamation made entirely out of bug bodies and wings, still well preserved since the 19th century.
Needs a hosing down

Hampson's assemblage of minute bug wings and bodies

1 comment:

  1. The life you lead is filled with wonder and it is intoxicating and I am broadening by what you see, where you go,and how you document it with your words and photographs.

    A bug-made image...hmmmmmmmm