Erin McKenny Appointed New Director of Robert Frost Stone House Museum
The Robert Frost Stone House Museum, which recently reopened for its second season under Bennington College’s stewardship, has appointed Erin McKenny as its new director.
McKenny will assume the directorship beginning July 1, 2019, as current director Megan Mayhew-Bergman transitions into an advisory role at the museum.
“It’s been a privilege to steward the Museum into its second life as part of Bennington College, and to continue the good work that the Friends of Frost started in 2001,” said Megan Mayhew-Bergman. “We’ve renovated the museum, updated its mission to serve students and the community, welcomed over 3,000 visitors, gathered great press for our project, secured grants, grown a membership, and hosted exciting concerts, speakers, and art exhibitions. I’m proud of the work we’ve done together.”
Following her departure at the Robert Frost Stone House Museum, Mayhew-Bergman will be joining Middlebury College as a visiting faculty member in literature and environmental studies, where she is also the director of the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference.
“I want to thank Megan for her incredible work at the Robert Frost Stone House Museum,” said Erin McKenny. “I am thrilled to be taking on this role and look forward to continuing Megan's work with programming and events that engage both students and the wider community. I also hope to build additional partnerships at the Robert Frost Stone House Museum related to the foundational elements of Frost’s life, which include poetry, farming, and teaching.”
Erin McKenny is originally from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. She attended the University of New Hampshire, receiving a BA in Studio Art, and earned an MFA in printmaking and drawing at Washington University in St. Louis. Her paintings and prints have been exhibited widely, and she has worked at Bennington College for 16 years, where she is currently the Design and Planning Coordinator and also manages the College’s art collection; McKenny will continue serving in these complementary roles as the new director of the Frost House.
McKenny has a rich background in community-building and museum work. Prior to moving back to Vermont, McKenny worked in the education departments of the Children’s Museum in Boston and the City Museum in St. Louis. She currently serves on the boards of the Bennington Museum and the Village School of North Bennington, and she is also a Trustee of the Village of North Bennington.
“We are thrilled to have Erin’s leadership for the Robert Frost Stone House Museum as Bennington College continues to build upon Frost’s legacy in Vermont,” said Paige Bartels, Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships. “Erin has deep roots in both Bennington and artistic communities, and these connections, coupled with her museum background and own love of Frost, will serve her well as she reimagines the role that the Robert Frost Stone House Museum can play in southern Vermont’s community. I know Erin will build on Megan’s incredible work in our inaugural year laying the vision for the Frost House.”
Additional public events are planned for the summer 2019 season, including a poetry workshop with poet James Crews and an Americana concert featuring the music of Cradle Switch.
The Robert Frost Stone House Museum is currently developing a quarter-mile poetry walking trail, with support from the Fund for North Bennington. The walking trail will feature signage with four of Frost's best known poems, integrated into the landscape that inspired Frost as he wrote. The trail will connect to the Fund for North Bennington’s existing two-mile Frost Trail, increasing access to this historic literary landscape and more fully telling the story of Frost’s time in Vermont. The trail will open to visitors in early May 2020, in conjunction with the opening of the museum’s 2020 season and in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Robert Frost’s move to Vermont. This new community resource will be free and open to the public.
About the Robert Frost Stone House Museum
American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963) purchased the Stone House, built c. 1769, in 1920. It was there that he wrote one of his most famous poems "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" in June 1922, and where he was living when he won his first Pulitzer. The young apple orchard on the property was propagated from Frost's own trees planted when he moved to the farm.
The Frost House was officially acquired by the College on December 1, 2017, thanks to a generous gift from the Friends of Robert Frost. The property had been preserved and opened as a house museum fifteen years ago, which was made possible by donations from Peter J. Stanlis, a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and support from many others. During that time, it welcomed more than 50,000 visitors, scholars, and poets from all over the world.
The gift to the College includes the house, seven acres of property, and two barns. It is a five-minute drive from the College’s campus, and Frost’s grave is nearby in the cemetery at the Old First Church in Old Bennington.
The Frost House will provide enhanced learning and event space for Bennington’s literature efforts, including the Masters of Fine Arts in Writing program; The Bennington Review, the College's literary journal; and Poetry at Bennington, a residency series that brings award-winning poets to campus for readings.