This diminutive historic schoolhouse and adjoining museum – the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont – contain the largest public collection in the world of paintings by Grandma Moses, the beloved 20th-century American folk artist.
Grandma Moses was known for painting scenes of rural life celebrating an idyllic America of days gone by.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses (September 7, 1860 – December 13, 1961) a.k.a. “Grandma Moses” did not start painting until after the age of seventy but within a few years, was one of America’s most popular artists.
Grandma Moses spent most of her life in Eagle Bridge, New York, near the Vermont border.
She occasionally painted scenes of Vermont including Bennington (1953) which actually depicts the gray stone Bennington Museum building (below center).
Here’s where the little schoolhouse comes in:
In 1972, the museum acquired the schoolhouse in which Moses studied as a young girl along with a large collection of objects related to her life, including her needlework, an 18-century tilt-top table she used as her painting table, her art supplies, her paint-stained apron, and a large collection of photographs and documents.
Below is a historic photo of the schoolhouse where Grandma Moses attended school as a child:
And here is the schoolhouse where it stands today adjacent to the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont:
Grandma Moses became a popular figure during the 1950s, and was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1953. She also made appearances on numerous television programs. In addition to her charming folk-style paintings, she wrote an autobiography, titled My Life’s History. Grandma Moses was also awarded two honorary doctoral degrees.
And doesn’t she just look the part of a down-home granny folk hero?
Her portrayals of the simple farm life that she grew up with are both nostalgic and endearing.
The houses, barns, and buildings she depicted in her paintings were quaint and pastoral.
Grandma Moses’s work made a natural fit for greeting cards, but her original paintings were – and are still – exhibited worldwide.
Her popularity has apparently not dwindled since her death in 1961. In fact, her 1943 painting titled Sugaring Off was sold at Christie’s New York in 2006 for $1.2 million USD, setting an auction record for the artist.
So to have so many of her original paintings, and personal heirlooms in one place – in the actual schoolhouse she attended as a girl – is phenomenal!
Below is a series of vintage postcards from the 1970s that show how the museum was originally set up with the Grandma Moses exhibit in the schoolhouse.
House Crazy Sarah was only able to find a couple of contemporary photos of the interior of the historic schoolhouse…
Below, is a close-up of Grandma Moses’s actual art supplies as she left them upon her death:
This place is one to add the the bucket list for all you folk-art, Americana, rural American history lovers!
Grandma Moses’s humble spirit lives on in this simple schoolhouse in small town Vermont.