Emily Dickinson Museum Announces Completion of $705,000 Capital Campaign

July 27, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—The Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens has announced the completion of its first capital campaign, which successfully raised more than $705,000 to fund the first steps in the long-term development of the museum as an historic site dedicated to the appreciation of Emily Dickinson’s life and poetry.

The $705,000 campaign was initially spurred by a matching grant of $200,000 from the Save America’s Treasures program of the National Park Service secured through the efforts of U.S. Representative John Olver. The program provides matching grants to projects that preserve outstanding examples of America’s diverse history and culture. The museum’s Board of Governors created a capital campaign to raise the required match for the federal grant to fund the first significant steps in long-term restoration.

“I am delighted, amazed by the generous response of donors who wanted to help launch this new museum honoring America’s great poet,” said Polly Longsworth, chair of the museum’s Board of Governors. “As Emily Dickinson said, ‘We never know how high we are/Till we are asked to rise.’ Many challenges lie ahead, but this is an amazing beginning.”

Conducted quietly over the last two years, the successful Campaign for the Emily Dickinson Museum accomplishes several major projects. It has funded a thorough restoration of the exterior of the Dickinson Homestead to the ochre and off-white color scheme of the poet’s adult lifetime, a project completed in 2004. In addition, the museum commissioned a comprehensive master plan, completed in the spring of 2006 by consulting architects Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker of Albany, N.Y., to guide its ongoing restoration efforts and improvements to both historic houses and their shared landscape over the next decade or more.

The capital campaign also supports essential improvements to the infrastructure and mechanical systems protecting both historic houses and their collections.

In addition to its Save America’s Treasures grant, the Emily Dickinson Museum received a major gift for the museum’s capital needs from the Kaneka Corporation of Japan last summer and support for historic landscape planning from the Town of Amherst’s Community Preservation Act fund.

The Emily Dickinson Museum, made up of the Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens, two historic houses in Amherst, Mass., is devoted to the story and legacy of poet Emily Dickinson and her family. The Dickinson Homestead was the birthplace and residence of the poet (1830-1886). The Evergreens was the 1856 home of the poet’s brother and sister-in-law, Austin and Susan Dickinson. Merged into a single museum in 2003, both properties are owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. For more information, please visit the Emily Dickinson Museum’s website.


Emily Dickinson Museum Featured in Preservation Magazine

July 20, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—“Emily Enshrined,” a story in the July/August 2006 issue of Preservation magazine, features the Emily Dickinson Museum. Written by Richard Todd, the article focuses on The Evergreens, the home of the poet’s brother and sister-in-law, Austin and Susan Dickinson.

One of the main challenges facing the museum is restoration of The Evergreens to its Dickinson-era luster. The tangled family web of literary talent, human relationships and conflicting loyalties has kept the home and its contents mostly untouched since the ownership of Martha Dickinson Bianchi, the poet’s niece and Austin and Susan’s daughter. The museum has recently completed a master plan and quietly raised more than $700,000 to lay the groundwork for future restoration efforts.

A 1962 graduate of Amherst College and formerly an editor at the Atlantic Monthly, Richard Todd is a contributing editor to Preservation. His essays and cultural reportage have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Times and other publications. Preservation magazine is the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the only national, private organization chartered by Congress to encourage public participation in the preservation of sites, buildings and objects significant in American history.

The Emily Dickinson Museum, made up of The Dickinson Homestead and The evergreens, two historic houses in Amherst, is devoted to the story and legacy of poet Emily Dickinson and her family. The Dickinson Homestead was the birthplace and residence of the poet (1830-1886). The Evergreens was the 1856 home of the poet’s brother and sister-in-law, Austin and Susan Dickinson. Merged into a single museum in 2003, both properties are owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. For more information, contact the museum at 413/542-8161 or visit the museum’s Website.


Amherst College Receives $13 Million To Launch Center for Community Engagement

July 19, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—A philanthropic investment of more than $13 million from the Argosy Foundation over the next seven years will establish a Center for Community Engagement at Amherst College. This new investment will build on the success of a four-year partnership that has significantly expanded opportunities for Amherst students to learn through public service.

“The Center for Community Engagement,” says Anthony W. Marx, the president of Amherst College, “will encourage the integration of ideals and action by drawing hundreds of Amherst students into community service through linked curricular and co-curricular programs. Amherst aims to graduate thoughtful and active citizens-men and women who not only care deeply about the pressing problems facing our society today, but also have the skills, experience and determination to create positive change in their communities. We will make substantive and attractive opportunities for service available to all students, including those who cannot volunteer without pay.”

The search for an experienced professional to lead the Center for Community Engagement will begin in the autumn. In coming years, the Center will work to build partnerships with a core group of community organizations regionally and nationally that are active in areas such as poverty, public education, human rights, the environment and public health. The Center for Community Engagement plans to establish a new incentive program through which Amherst students will commit to regular service in the local community and in turn receive paid January or summer public service internships. Ultimately, hundreds of Amherst students each year will be able to spend their summers helping others through internships at service organizations across the country and around the world, including some in our own community, such as Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity. The Center for Community Engagement will also assist Amherst faculty in developing community-based learning courses that will help students ground their hands-on service experiences within the intellectual framework provided by Amherst’s liberal arts curriculum.

“The focus of the Center—connecting students to communities through public service so they can better understand life’s circumstances and act on their ability to bring about positive change—is in keeping with the vision of the Argosy Foundation,” says founder John Abele, a 1959 graduate of Amherst College and founding chairman of Boston Scientific. “As a private family foundation, we envision building communities, encouraging others to contribute in their own ways, and collaborating creatively to find unique, even entrepreneurial solutions to complex problems. College students can be especially good at all of these. We also wish to leverage our philanthropic investment across the field of higher education and connecting students in the way envisioned is, hopefully, a start to something bigger. Integrating public service learning experiences with higher education formation so that, as a result, more value is generated back to society is, ultimately, what we’re after. I’m delighted that President Marx is pursuing this initiative which will bring value to the communities being served and a unique and useful perspective to the participating students."

Noting Amherst’s long history of support for a range of nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley, Marx added, “We are all enthusiastic at the prospect of strengthening Amherst's partnerships with organizations serving our community and of forging new relationships with nonprofits further afield. “Our students are eager to learn from those who have dedicated their lives to serving others, and have much energy and good will to bring to this enterprise. We believe students elsewhere will benefit, too, from the learning that will be shared willingly with others looking for ways in which higher education can demonstrate to society a greater return on the investment.”

Last year, one in four Amherst students volunteered their time locally as mentors or tutors to children in area public schools, at domestic-violence prevention programs, hospitals and other valuable community organizations. Groups of students also traveled to New York City and Washington, D.C. during the January interterm to teach in underserved urban schools, assist in pro-bono legal work and talk with Amherst alumni who have chosen careers in public service.

The Argosy Foundation is a family philanthropy established by John E. Abele, a 1959 graduate of Amherst College, where he majored in physics and philosophy. Abele was the founding chairman of Boston Scientific Corporation, a pioneer in the less-invasive medical device industry.