News from the Museum

News from the Museum

Greetings! It has been a busy season at the Amherst Historical Society and Museum. In May, the board got the Simeon Strong House ready for visitors and preparations for the Juneteenth celebration exhibition began. The exhibition by Ancestral Bridges includes over five dozen photographs of Black Amherst residents from the 1800s to the present that were enlarged for display in the Strong House.

In addition, their collection of Native American arrowheads and reproductions of prints of Native Americans went on display. This exhibition will be accessible to the public through the fall. Also not be missed are two paintings by Shirley Jackson Whitaker and the design for the Tote2Vote Bag created to counter voter suppression in the South. Also, three stunning straw hats designed and created by milliner and Town Council Member Anika Lopes highlight “Hat Corner.”

Visiting Curator Diana Lempel has worked with three college interns, Christal Zhou, Shannon Feng, and Danielle Efrat to create new exhibitions which will be installed next spring. More about this in a later Newsgram. The Amherst Cultural Council and Stamell Stringed Instruments are sponsoring a series of chamber music concerts, Strings at the Strong. Two more remain—August 27 with the Conway Fine Arts and September 3 with Cushman String Quartet.

We are eager to hear from those who would like to volunteer to serve as docents in the House.

Special Exhibit: Black Neighborhoods and Families in Amherst

Special Exhibit: Black Neighborhoods and Families in Amherst

Ancestral Bridges Exhibit of Historical Photographs and Artifacts

This exhibit will be up through Saturday, Nov 5.

Charles Thompson

Pictured: Charles Thompson, “Professor Charley” employed by Amherst College and the Stearns Family.

This special exhibit, curated by Ancestral Bridges, is in our first floor galleries and opened during the Amherst History Museums stop on the Ancestral Bridges Juneteenth Heritage Walking Tour. The exhibit features historic photographs of the first Black and Afro-Indigenous families who lived and worked in Amherst through the centuries. Some of whom served in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War; including Christopher Thompson, one of the brave who traveled to Texas and carried out the military acts that ended slavery in America on June 19, 1865, the day we now celebrate as Juneteenth. Christopher and his brothers, Charles, Henry, James, and John are laid to rest in Amherst’s West Cemetery.

Debora Bridges, a descendant of these families and 3x great-daughter of Christopher Thompson, will be present on most Saturdays throughout the season. Debora is the curator and docent of the Civil War Tablet exhibit at the Bangs Community Center.

The exhibits finale features artwork by Dr. Shirley Jackson that weaves the exhibit to present day and highlights her new project

Pettijohn Family

Pictured above: The Chesley Pettijohn family gathered at their home on Paige Street.

Ancestral Bridges supports and builds programs that celebrate BIPOC arts, history, and culture in western Massachusetts. We also partner with local communities to create educational and economic opportunities so that BIPOC and disadvantaged youth can thrive. Learn more at

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