Lecture and Film Screening

Saturday, September 25: Lecture by author Robert K. Elder, and screening of 1955 short film Moby-Dick, 4 pm


Award-winning author Robert K. Elder discusses discuss his latest book, Gilbert Wilson’s Moby-Dick, a decades-in-the-making illustrated edition of Herman Melville’s masterpiece. During his lifetime, artist Gilbert Wilson (1907-1991) lived in relative obscurity. Despite a critical splash in the 1930s, Wilson sacrificed financial security for artistic freedom creating more than 200 paintings and drawings inspired by Moby-Dick.  In 2019, Elder edited and published an illustrated version of the book utilizing Wilson’s work. 

Wilson’s Moby-Dick art was also the basis for Jerry Winter’s 1955 short film of the same name. The film is narrated by actor Thomas Mitchell (most famous as Scarlett O’Hara’s father in Gone with the Wind) and is illustrated solely with Wilson’s paintings.

This FREE event is sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union.

Lecture: “Victorian Sentiments: The Art of Mourning Personal and Public” with Joanne and Dennis Picard

Wednesday, September 15, 5 pm

Jewelry and gravestones may seem to be an unlikely combination, but both reflect society’s beliefs about death and mourning in similar ways. And though we may identify mourning jewelry and sentimental gravestone symbolism with the Victorian period, their roots and usage go back to antiquity. During this lecture Joanne and Dennis Picard of Westfield, Massachusetts, will share images and stories spanning the past hundred plus years that reveal the dramatic regional changes in how people thought about death and mourning.

This FREE event is sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Pittsfield Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

Film Screening: “Call Us Ishmael”


This event has been postponed – please stay tuned for the new date!

Michael Hoberman, an American literature professor at Fitchburg State University, will make his case that Melville is an ideal writer for people who describe themselves as skeptical romantics. His talk highlights his own path to Melville’s writing, and it will also offer a brief discussion of how he teaches two lesser-known texts (“Benito Cereno” and “The Encantadas”). Call Us Ishmael chronicles filmmaker David Shaerf’s journey into the world of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Throughout his quest he encounters artists, musicians, professors, and performers, all of whom are singularly seeking the white whale. Call Us Ishmael gives viewers an insight into a community devoted to this timeless text.

$15 BCHS members, $20 not-yet-members

Tickets available at https://berkshire-county-historical-society.square.site/events

Performance: ReWritten

August 13–15 – ReWritten, 7pm
Please note: the performances for Saturday and Sunday have been sold out.
ReWritten is an immersive performance that explores the often-silenced intimate relationship between authors Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. Moving between their lives, work, and remaining letters, ReWritten reimagines an intergenerational queer love story that helped shape American literature. Through dance, live music, visual art, projection, and text this performance questions what happens when we say no to dreams when we want to say yes. Co-created and performed by Tom Truss and Matthew Cumbie.
$10 for BCHS members; $15 for non-members. Tickets available HERE.
Use your EBT card and get 50% off
Kids 12 and under free

Summer Party

Come to the shores of Morewood Lake at the Country Club of Pittsfield to enjoy a summer fete! Sarah Morewood once called her home “Broadhall,” and threw grand parties for all of her friends, including the Melvilles.

This year’s outdoor party begins at 4pm, and includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, special cocktails, and a short performance about the “Dutchess of Broadhall.” Please join us and support the BCHS as we complete important
historic preservation projects this season.

Supporter level: $125 for 1, $240 for 2
Friend level: $85 for 1, $160 for 2

Tickets available HERE.

Caroline Hellman, “Children of the Raven and the Whale: Visions and Revisions in American Literature”

Join us on Sunday, July 11th, at 3pm for a talk with author Caroline Hellman.

Children of the Raven and the Whale: Visions and Revisions in American Literature (University of Virginia Press, 2019) looks at how contemporary United States writers have responded to texts that were historically central to the American literary canon – including Melville’s Moby-Dick. In their rewritings and layering of new stories over older ones, contemporary writers chronicle a spectrum of American experience, and appraise the project of the United States. This talk will explore Melville’s influence on the work of author Ta-Nehisi Coates, in addition to discussing the larger landscape of American literature today.

$10 BCHS members, $15 not-yet-members: tickets available ONLINE or by phone at 413.442.1793

Exhibit – Lifting the Veil: Mourning in the Berkshires

July 10 through October

This exhibition, located both in our small barn and in the main house, examines mid-19th century rituals and objects related to death and dying in the Berkshires and beyond. Lifting the Veil looks at the historic practices surrounding death, burial, and those left behind. BCHS collections will be featured in this exhibit, including objects not regularly on view to the public.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Pittsfield Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

Mastheads Final Reading

July 10, 2021. 6pm-7pm.

Join us in the barn as the writers from this year’s Mastheads residencies read their new work, written on-site here at Arrowhead. Includes playwright Sam Mayer and poets Helene Achanzar, Christine Larusso, Amanda Smeltz, and Keith S. Wilson.

Free program.