The Alcott Farmhouse at Fruitlands Museum. Photo Courtesy of the Fruitlands Museum.
The Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Massachusetts announced on February 18, that it plans to merge with The Trustees of Reservations—the state’s largest conservation and preservation nonprofit founded in 1891.
The Fruitlands Museum which was founded in 1914 by author and preservationist Clara Endicott Sears, takes its name from a failed experimental utopian community once located on the same site. The museum itself consists of a group of buildings that includes a farmhouse, a Shaker Museum—considered the first Shaker museum in the United States—a Native American Museum, an Art Museum and a visitor center where educational programs and classes are held.
The merger seems like a perfect fit for both the Trustees of Reservations and The Fruitlands Museum. The Trustees of Reservations oversee 26,000 acres of working farms, landscaped and urban gardens, and community parks, barrier beaches, forests, campgrounds, inns and historic sites—many of which are National Historic Landmarks and include works such as McKim, Mead & White’s architectural masterpiece Naumkeag, The Old Manse, a Georgian style house that served as the center of Concord’s political, literary, and social revolutions, as well as the Crane Estate and many more architectural and landscape treasures found throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
“The agreement provides financial opportunities to the Museum for its long-term growth and expansion. The two organizations will begin an operational integration over the coming year which should be complete by 2017,” the press release stated. This is a terrific announcement in the museum world and a very timely one given that small house and history museums all over the country constantly struggle to keep up with the times—both financially and culturally.