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New art museum sneak peek in Bernardston Saturday

BERNARDSTON — Just because a new art museum doesn’t have a home doesn’t mean it can’t hold an open house.

The Museum of New England Art will hold its first event, “Live Arts under the Oaks,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Bernardston Unitarian Meetinghouse, 49 Church St.

“It’s going to be a sneak preview of art that could hang in the museum,” said Bernardston artist and museum organizer Beverly Phelps.

The collection includes the work of regional artists, from the early 1800s to the contemporary.

There will also be demonstrations, and a discussion titled “For Love or Money: the Artist’s Dilemma” at 1 p.m., featuring Northfield artist Charles Leach, who has painted for both love and money.

The event will also include the opening of a Deerfield Valley Art Association members’ show downstairs in the church.

There will be arts and crafts for sale at the event, with proceeds going toward the museum.

There will also be live music from Pat and Tex LaMountain, Rick Mauran and John White as well as kids’ activities.

Phelps has been spearheading the effort to found the museum and would like to do so somewhere in the Pioneer Valley. Before it finds a home, though, the museum must be registered as a nonprofit. That process has begun and once it’s finished, the museum can start collecting donations and looking for a building.

The museum had been eyeing the Moody Homestead in Northfield, the 14-room former home of the Northfield Mount Hermon School’s founder, evangelist Dwight L. Moody. However, the property was purchased by Hobby Lobby, the company that had bought the 217-acre former NMH campus adjacent to the Homestead. Hobby Lobby gave the campus to the National Christian Foundation, which seeks a permanent owner, and bought the Homestead so that it may stay with the campus.

Phelps still holds out hope that there may be a home for the museum on the campus or in the Homestead. Moody was a supporter of the arts, and Phelps believes a museum would fit the Moody legacy that Hobby Lobby and the NCF seek to honor.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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