Curtains Without Borders: An Exhibit of Photographs

May 4 - July 28, 2012 

Vermont has an astonishing collection of public art in the form of painted theatrical scenery created between 1900 and 1940. A hundred years ago, grand drapes and painted backdrops were the primary artistic feature in the cultural life of almost every village and town in northern New England. These theater curtains (primarily muslin roll drops, not the "velvet" drapery curtains commonly used today) hang in town halls, grange halls and opera houses all over the state.

During the last 12 years, a Vermont conservation team, "Curtains Without Borders" has stabilized all 185 historic theater curtains in Vermont. Most of them have been re-installed for use or display on their home stages, but in order to protect them from light, dirt and inadvertent mishandling, they are generally kept rolled up except for special occasions.

This exhibit is a chance for people to appreciate the color and escapism that these theater curtains provided in institutions that varied greatly in size and professional capacity. In addition to 30 large photographs, a 1930's curtain featuring jazz performers will also be displayed. This curtain was painted by Lucretia Rogers for a hall in Beecher Falls, VT. It is now owned by the Canaan Historical Society.

Scene with Jazz Musicians by Lucretia Rogers, c.1935. This curtain hung in the Red Men's Lodge in Beecher Falls until 2007. It is the only one of its type in Vermont. A party curtain!

  • Exhibition sponsor Amy E. Tarrant

    s exhibition is funded in part through support from the 
  • the National Endowment for the Arts, Bay and Paul Foundations, and the Alden and Mary Bryan Arts Fund.

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