BENNINGTON -- The Christmas season has always been one of lights, decorations, and trees - to the extent that the latter is a global symbol of the holidays. The Bennington Museum, tapping into this worldwide karma, is taking it a step further while celebrating its 16th annual Festival of Trees.
The festival, which runs through Dec. 30, is the museum’s major fundraiser of the year. It is a community created exhibit of uniquely designed and decorated holiday trees. Each offering is set up in its own special, and sometimes whimsical, vignette.
Museum director Robert Wolterstorff said items from the museum’s collection are added to these vignettes to produce a perfect blend of a current design with historical elements.
"As the largest and most anticipated annual fundraiser at the Bennington Museum, the Festival of Trees includes something for everyone," Wolterstorff said. "Festival of Trees is five weeks of fun, when we present trees decorated by designers, shops, and other community organizations. They are put together with paintings and other objects from the collection so they make up creative vignettes that tell a visual story. This year we have an international theme - ‘Around the World.’"
Wolterstorff added that more than 20 vignettes were created for the entire family to enjoy, along with the traditional trees installed in the galleries, he said.
Along with the daily exhibition, several events will highlight the Festival of Trees and its month-long duration.
Ongoing silent auction, Nov. 24 to Dec. 8 - Deana Mallory, the museum’s director of public programs, said that to add another level of excitement and celebration, guests can participate in the bidding during the "One-of-a-Kind-Experiences" silent auction. Many items have been generously donated, and include a weekend at The Plaza in New York City including theater tickets and dining certificates or a week’s stay at a condo in Cayman Islands.
"One-of-a-kind creations such as a ceramic bowl designed especially for this occasion by Roseanne Henning of Raj Earth Pottery is also included," Mallory said. "In the auction is a blown glass bowl donated by Mad River Glass Company and an original raku-fired ceramic vase by Jay L. Whitten, II of JLW Ceramics. Over 30 auction items will be available for you to place a bid."
"Around the World" Gala - Sat., Dec. 8, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. - The 16th annual Festival of Trees Gala will be an evening offering the excitement of celebrations during the winter solstice from countries around the world. The Gala is an event to enjoy a glass of bubbly, foods and sweets representing dishes from different regions of the world, fine wine and signature drinks created for the occasion.
The museum staff and its guests will be serenaded with holiday music by the Mount Anthony Union High School Chamber Chorus and Jazz Ensemble. A special appearance by Welcome Blend rounds out the line-up of entertainment. All the decorated galleries of the museum will be open for the enjoyment of attendees. Tickets for the Gala are $50 and can be purchased by calling the museum. Reservations are suggested.
"Afterglow" a Holiday Dance Party - Fri., Dec. 21, 8 to 11 p.m. - The museum’s holiday dance party is one of the region’s special seasonal entertainment offerings. The staff and its guests will be able to enjoy holiday cocktails from the cash bar, and kick up their heels at the Club Muse, the institution’s multi-use cabaret space. This will be the event where the "Best of the Fest" awards for the public’s favorite tree vignettes are announced. There will also be live bidding to win a special item at auction, and music provided by DJ Jonny Love of A-1 Entertainment. Cover charge is $7 at the door.
In all, Wolterstorff promised an engaging an entertaining time during the Festival of Trees - one whose end result will help the museum preserve and maintain more than 60,000 items in its collection, organize exhibitions, put on public programs, and maintain the historic 150-year old building.
"In the past, we have welcomed close to 2,000 visitors during this time of year, and we look to surpass that number this year," he said.
The 16th Annual Festival of Trees will run through Dec. 30 at the Bennington Museum. Info: 802-447-1571, benningtonmuseum.org.