The Amherst Historical Society and Museum opens for the season with The Magnificent Life & Art of Mabel Loomis Todd, an exhibit that offers a fresh interpretation of the Society’s founder.

Developed by visiting curator Diana Limbach Lempel, the exhibit explores Todd’s work as a nature writer, painter, conservationist, lecturer, and the editor of Emily Dickinson’s poetry.

Viewers can get to know Mabel Loomis Todd, founder of the Amherst Historical Society, through her botanical artwork, nature writing, and efforts in both historic preservation and nature conservation. Mabel created a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and was proud of her family’s American pedigree; she also committed herself to land conservation in the Amherst area as well as in Florida and the Maine coast. She painted local plants, such as the sweet pea flowers that decorate her dress in the photographs seen below. She wrote about the sunsets from her Amherst home and savored every moment of her wild life.

How can Mabel help us think in new ways about the relationship between nature, history, and what it means to care for a place? How can her loving attention to the details of birdsong, sunsets, smells, and even weeds, inspire our own relationship with where we live? How can understanding the origins of the Amherst Historical Society help us tell better stories about Amherst today, and tomorrow?

This exhibition calls us to be moved by Mabel’s unabashed enthusiasm, unbridled love, and unquenchable capacity for seeing beauty in the world.

In addition to the Mabel Loomis Todd exhibit, several of the rooms at the museum have been reinstalled, providing the opportunity to see the ongoing work of the Society. Visitors will be able to view parts of the textile collection including dresses dating back two hundred years, sit in the historic parlor with a collection of browsable books, and learn about the founding of the museum. There are also rotating displays researched and designed by student interns covering a wide range of subjects from historical policing, traditional women’s work and local business signs. Children are welcome and there are installations designed with all ages in mind.