‘One hundred years is not an astonishingly long time in the context of New England,” said Wyona Lynch-McWhite, executive director of the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard. “But in terms of museums, it is a very long time. For a cultural institution to survive for a century is amazing.”
But Fruitlands has done just that, and the thriving museum is celebrating its centennial year with a long list of special events, beginning this weekend.
In 1914, its founder, Clara Endicott Sears, purchased a farmhouse perched on 400 acres overlooking the Nashoba Valley. The land was not only beautiful and arable but historically significant, as the property where Bronson Alcott established his famed utopian experiment in the 1840s.
Since then, the Fruitlands Museum has grown to 10 buildings at 102 Prospect Hill Road, albeit on half the acreage; the other 200 acres became part of the Army’s Fort Devens installation.
The centennial festivities start Saturday with free admission for a day of music, crafts displays, artist demonstrations, trail walks, and more — plus birthday cake. They continue on Sunday with the “Summer Solstice Farm-to-Fork Dinner,’’ starting at 5 p.m. with cocktails and private tours of the museum’s gallery buildings, followed by an elaborate, locally sourced meal. Proceeds from the $150 tickets will benefit the museum’s educational and outreach programs.
Born in 1863, Sears was a Boston Brahmin . She used her family wealth in 1910 to purchase land and build a summer residence known as the Pergolas on Prospect Hill in Harvard, adjacent to the small red farmhouse that had been the home of Transcendentalist Alcott’s short-lived community. After acquiring the land and restoring the farmhouse, Sears channeled her dual passions for intellectual growth and New England history into a museum.
This weekend’s events are just the beginning of the celebration, said Lynch-McWhite. Events throughout the summer and fall include an anniversary concert by the Concord Band next Thursday, and a three-part monthly lecture series beginning June 29 with a presentation by Richard Francis, author of “Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia.” Later talks will feature two experts on Clara Endicott Sears’ life and philosophy: Cecilia Macheski, professor emeritus of LaGuardia Community College in Hudson, N.Y., and biographer Cynthia Barton.
“We invite everyone to have a little fun in utopia, or, as Bronson Alcott called it, our ‘New Eden,’ ” said Lynch-McWhite. “We’re not only marking our 100th anniversary, but celebrating Clara Endicott Sears, the woman that made it possible, the collections that she cared for, and all that we’ve accomplished to get to this point. In honoring her work as historian, preservationist, author, and collector, we’re reminded of the need to know and respect the past in order to shape a legacy for the future.”
For more information on the centennial events at Fruitlands Museum, call 978-456-3924, ext. 292, or go to www.fruitlands.org.
CREEPY AND KOOKY: Steps Off Broadway in Bellingham is presenting “The Addams Family,” in which the familiar TV family continues its story with Wednesday Addams falling in love with a young man from a respectable family and her parents deciding to host a dinner so the two families can meet.
The production features multitalented singers and dancers, and the set is a clever maze of moving walls, stairways, and surprises in the shadows and under the beds.
Performances continue Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the troupe’s theater space in the Bellingham Plaza, 799 South Main St. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by calling 508-876-9797, or online at tickets@ stepsoffbroadway.com , as well as at the door.
CALIFORNIA POETS: On Saturday , the “Wake Up and Smell the Poetry” performances in the HCAM-TV studios in Hopkinton features California poets Teresa Mei Chuc and Elijah Imlay reading from their works, both of which focus on the Vietnam War and its aftermath.
Imlay’s first book of poems, “Monsoon Blues,” was inspired by his time spent playing clarinet with a band during the Vietnam War. Since then, he has become a social worker who offers writing workshops for military veterans.
Mei Chuc writes poetry about immigrating to the United States with her mother and brother while her father was kept in a Viet Cong reeducation camp for nine years. Along with being a published poet, she works as a consultant for the Los Angeles Writing Project, and also teaches literature and writing at a public inner-city middle school.
Folk ensemble Ergo Canto will follow the poetry readings with an offering of original and historical folk songs that include ethereal and ballad-style vocals, guitar, flute, and harmonica. An open mike for contributions of poetry, story, and song will follow.
Admission is free for the taping, but reservations are recommended based on the limited seating in the studio, at 77 Main St. (Route 135) in the center of Hopkinton.
Doors open at 10 a.m. and the program begins at 10:30. To reserve a seat, visit www.hcam.tv/wakeup or call 508-435-8638.
GALLERY TURNS 50: Powers Gallery celebrates its 50th year in business with a free “patio party’’ and reception Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. at 144 Great Road in Acton.
The event, with music from 1964 setting the mood, marks the opening of an exhibition featuring gallery artists whose work celebrates the pleasures and pastimes of summer, including traditional landscapes and seascapes by Ron Tinney, abstract oils by Fran Busse, and new monotypes by Pamela Lawson. Sculptures by Patrick Pierce will also be on display.
The group summer show will continue through Aug. 30.nancyswest@ gmail.com.