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Staff Spotlight: Johanna Batman

Last fall, after serving as a summer docent, Johanna Batman became The Mount’s development associate. We sat down with her for a few minutes for a brief Q&A.

Q: Did you always see yourself working in a cultural nonprofit organization?

A: No, I had my heart set on being a paleoanthropologist.  I was determined to have my Ph.D. by the time I was 28. But during my sophomore year in college, I realized I needed a break. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to be a college professor who lived in Tanzania or South Africa for three months each year.

My senior year of college I did an internship in curatorial work at an historic house in Rhinebeck, New York. There I became very interested in museums, and that’s been my focus ever since.

Johanna

Johanna Batman, The Mount’s development associate

Q: Why did you come to The Mount? 

A: I fell into it serendipitously. I’m from a small town in the Finger Lakes, and I thought I needed to get a little further away from home. I looked on Craigslist and saw the listing for a tour guide at The Mount. I thought: I’ll do that for the summer. In November, I was offered a full-time position as development associate.

Q: What do you find most gratifying about working at The Mount?

A: I’ve really loved both being a docent and working in development. I love that The Mount makes such a strong commitment to its staff and personnel, recognizing the staff is the institution and not just accessories. Knowing you are a priority is unusual in this kind of setting, and it makes all the difference.

I’ve also been constantly impressed by the strong connection between The Mount and our members and supporters. The Mount has seen its share of ups and downs, but the staff here has worked hard to build enduring relationships with the local community through outreach and partnership that is a wonderful model for non-profits everywhere.

Q: What have you learned about Edith Wharton you didn’t know before?

A: Everything! Before coming to The Mount, I knew nothing about Edith Wharton. I’d read The Age of Innocence but didn’t remember it well at all; I made the mistake of reading it back-to-back with The Wings of Dove. Henry James is hard work, and I was worn out and didn’t approach Edith Wharton with a fresh perspective.

After I was hired as a docent, I read Ethan Frome, and I then read about 20 more Wharton books over the course of the summer. She’s a fascinating woman—and I love how, on this spectacular property, you can approach art, literature, and history through the lens of this one remarkable woman.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: I enjoy cooking and gardening. My feminist forbearers would be ashamed! I also love my dog, and hiking, and I’m hoping to get a plot in a community garden. I’m very much an amateur foodie.

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NY AAA: C&T 4-13

Car_&_Travel_Mag_logoCar &Travel (published by NY AAA)

April 2014

“The Best of the Berkshires” (p. 14)

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Berkshire Eagle 3-28-14

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 11.32.35 PMThe Berkshire Eagle 

March 28, 2014

“Wedding Venues in the Berkshires” 

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Boston Globe 3-23-14

bostonglobeBoston Globe

March 24, 2014

“Top Historic Gardens to Visit in the Berkshires” 

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What’s new at The Mount in 2014?

Behind the scenes at The Mount, our work is never done. We’ve got perpetually long to-do lists (year-round, in fact!) that keep our days fresh and interesting: historical research, exhibit preparation, events and tour planning, fundraising, property improvements… and, happily, much more.

The laundry room at The Mount

The laundry room at The Mount

We get particularly excited every year about now, when we’re preparing new programs and materials for the summer season. And we’ve got some great projects to debut this year!

First, we’ve created a new tour–one that focuses on the servants of The Mount. Inspired in part by public fascination with Downton Abbey, whose creator Julian Fellowes has cited Wharton as a major literary influence, the “Backstairs at The Mount” tour will highlight the roles, relationships, living conditions, and working expectations of the 20 servants who staffed the house and property each summer while the Whartons were in residence. Like other Berkshire-based households during the Gilded Age, The Mount relied on the Whartons’ permanent staff as well as local residents for cooking, cleaning, driving, gardening, and other daily tasks. Visitors on the Backstairs tour will hear some of their stories. The tour will officially launch in May. Tour times and prices will be posted on the website in the coming weeks.

Second, we’ve got a new exhibit that ties in with the new tour: the Kitchen Stories exhibit, designed to give visitors a glimpse into the inner workings of an early 20th-century “Berkshire cottage” kitchen. Thanks to local collectors, it’s got everything–including the kitchen sink!

A sketch by Edith Wharton

A sketch by Edith Wharton

Third, we’re presenting to the public for the first time two important collections. “A Fine Hand,” which will be displayed in the library, includes more than 40 sketches created by Edith Wharton. “Edith: Images of a Lifetime” is a video compilation of more than 50 images depicting Edith from her girlhood to her twilight years.

Fourth…Well, you’ll just have to wait and see! Our programming this year is more robust than ever, and there are plenty of exciting things coming down the proverbial pike. So stay tuned! And mark your calendars for this year’s opening day: May 3. 

 

 

 

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The entries are in!

EW Writing Comp 2013 2

Awards ceremony for 2013 Edith Wharton Writing Competition

We are delighted to announce this year’s Edith Wharton Writing Competition has drawn a record number of entries: 150 fiction and poetry pieces! We couldn’t be happier to welcome participants from 20 different public and private schools around the region.

Our esteemed judges will now review each entry carefully to determine the winners. Stay tuned… we’ll announce the winners in mid-April.

All participants are invited, with family, friends and teachers, to attend the free Awards Ceremony at The Mount on Sunday, April 27 from 2 to 4 pm. Winning writers and poets will be invited to read their work.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and the teachers and parents who support efforts of all young writers!

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Test your knowledge about Edith Wharton!

How well do you really know one of America’s greatest writers? You might be a big fan, but after you take this short quiz, we can almost guarantee you’ll walk away with an interesting tidbit or two!

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The Mount Expands Programs for Young Writers

(Lenox, MA)-To strengthen its ties to the local community and to enhance its educational programming, The Mount-Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, Mass.-has expanded its student writing programs for the 2014 season. In addition to the annual Edith Wharton Writing Competition, which invites fiction and poetry submissions from high school students, The Mount will offer a four-week workshop on e-book publishing for young writers from April 5 through April 26.

Led by local writer Nik Davies, the “What’s Your Story? Steps to Self-Publication for Young Authors” workshop will be held at The Mount on four consecutive Saturday mornings in April from 10:30 to 12:30 am: April 5, April 12, April 19, and April 26. Instruction will focus on how to create e-books, a growing trend in juvenile literature. Topics will include editing, copywriting, jacket copy/book description, ISBN numbering, design/ cover art, formatting, and uploading. Tuition is $120 per student. Financial assistance is available. Students can register online atEdithWharton.org.

The annual Edith Wharton Writing Competition, which includes fiction and poetry categories, will run through early March. All entries must be postmarked by March 5, 2014. Winners, who will be announced in April, will be invited with their families and teachers to an awards ceremony on Sunday, April 27. For competition guidelines and entry requirements, visit The Mount’s website, EdithWharton.org, or call 413-551-5110 for more information. Relaunched in 2010, the Edith Wharton Writing Competition last year drew over 123 entries from high school students across the region.

The Mount is located at 2 Plunkett Street in Lenox, MA. For more information about these and other programs, visit EdithWharton.org.

About The Mount:

The Mount is a National Historic Landmark and cultural center that celebrates the intellectual, artistic, and humanitarian legacy of Edith Wharton. We engage a diverse audience by providing context to Wharton’s life and achievements through our educational and public programs and the conservation and preservation of her historic estate and gardens.

Each year, The Mount is host to over 40,000 visitors. Daily tours of the property are offered May through October, with special events throughout the year. Annual summer programming includes a joint exhibit with SculptureNow, Wharton on Wednesdays, Music After Hours, WordFest at The Mount, and the celebrated Monday Lecture Series. Exhibitions explore themes from Wharton’s life and work.

The Mount is located at 2 Plunkett Street in Lenox, MA. For additional information about The Mount, visit EdithWharton.org.

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Want to get tickets for The Mount’s most popular, always-sold-out programs?

Lecture Series Marton

Now in its 22nd year, The Mount’s widely acclaimed summer Lecture Series draws devoted attendees from far and wide. From the moment the speaker line-up is announced in the spring, the demand for tickets explodes—and they sell out fast. We’re not exaggerating: it’s one of the hottest programs in New England! It’s like a long-awaited rock concert for intellectuals.

There’s only one way to ensure you get a shot at limited tickets, and that’s to become a member of The Mount. Advance tickets go on sale to Mount members in early May. You’ll get a secret code and everything, so you can buy tickets online or by phone–whichever way you prefer.

Past Lecture Series programs have featured such literary luminaries as Tom Reiss, Susan Orlean, Kati Marton, Michael Korda, Stacy Schiff, Alexandra Styron, Robert Massie, Michael Gorra, Gail Collins, Judith Thurman, John Matteson, Lily Koppel, and so many others who have shared enthralling stories of some of history’s most colorful characters.

We can’t tell you yet who’s coming this summer–that’s still a secret–but we can tell you this year’s series is going to be fabulous! Don’t miss your chance to be a part of it.

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10 reasons to get married at The Mount

Photo by Sabine Volmer von Falken

Photo by Sabine Volmer von Falken

  1. You and your guests have exclusive use of the gorgeous 49-acre property for the entire evening.
  2. Ross Jolly and Grace Leathrum, our wedding specialists, are hands-on throughout the entire planning process.
  3. We can introduce you to some of the best caterers and wedding photographers in New England.
  4. By renting the property, you’ll be supporting a National Historic Landmark and its public programming.
  5. You also have access to The Mount’s historic (1902) Stables for rehearsal dinners and after-parties.
  6. You can bring your dog. Edith would be happy to have him.
  7. There will be a docent on site during your wedding to give you and your guests a tour of the home and exhibits.
  8. Whether you’re under the stonework pergola, next to the French flower garden, or lounging on a chaise in Edith Wharton’s boudoir, there are no shortage of beautiful photo opportunities.
  9. The Mount bookstore can provide you with something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
  10. We have three acres of formal gardens with exquisite, brightly colored flowers for use as your wedding backdrop.

We’re booking now for the 2015 season, but the weekends are going fast. To discuss your wedding possibilities, email weddings@edithwharton.org or call Ross Jolly now at 413-551-5120.

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