Here we are, poised at the beginning of another summer season, a year of change and growth behind us and a busy, bright future ahead of us.picture of kate b-w

Last July our team started the season out with four distinct goals in mind:

  • Introduce Wistariahurst to new people as an inviting and open place to visit, learn, and enjoy.
  • Become a more engaging place, where people can be active participants in our history, our mission, and our community.
  • Build community and take an active role in the City of Holyoke.
  • Provide accessible cultural experiences to our community.

It was with these goals in mind that we directed our work, curated new exhibits and programs, and took some new risks. With these goals in mind we saw old favorites like The Nutcracker with the Massachusetts Academy of Ballet flourish, with over 1,000 people coming through the house over the course of three days, and new events such as our fall Pumpkin Glow, part of Next Stop Holyoke, draw over 300 people to our gardens.

Throughout it all, the thread that has bound our work tightly has been you – our members, volunteers, visitors, and supporters. Every step of the way you have walked with us on our journey forward, energizing our events and voicing enthusiasm for our new offerings. Whether it was coming out on a sub-zero Valentine’s Day to share company and music or revealing a bit of yourself in one of our spring Getting to the Story workshops, your presence and participation has been a constant reminder of why we are here and who we are for. It has remained a significant inspiration to our team to so clearly valued by you, by Holyoke.

In the coming year we will continue to seek our inspiration directly from our home community and produce exhibits, education, and programs that align with our guiding goals. On-site you can expect to see the variety of experiences available to visitors expand to include more exhibits curated by students and community members and new ways to view the house and learn the story of the Skinners.

We anticipate making a major reinvestment of time, energy and funds in the continued preservation of the house and grounds. Throughout fiscal year 2016 we have identified and catalogued areas of need including safety upgrades, restoration work, and accessibility additions. 2017 will bring consultations and strategic planning in order to ensure the protection of Wistariahurst well into the future.

While we tend for our home site, we will be making a concerted effort to get out into the community and meet new faces with the launch of our Mobile Museum. Creating a physical casing for an expanded outreach effort, the Mobile Museum will allow more people to view items from our collection and learn about the history of Holyoke, and provide the opportunity for students and community members to try on the mantle of community historian.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, we are committed to working with our colleagues and partners throughout the City to act as a hub for the thriving cultural energy that exists within our City. As we set our sights beyond the grounds of Wistariahurst, we hope to play a bigger role in the cultivation of history, arts, and all forms of creative expression throughout Holyoke. We’re excited to leverage our expertise and resources, unique amongst the City departments, in order to support the robust creative economy which is emerging in Holyoke and boost its continued growth.