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Stranger Visions, created by Heather Dewey-Hagborg, a 2003 graduate of Bennington College, Extracted DNA from anonymous strangers who have left behind hair, skin, fingernails or the saliva in cigarette butts or chewing gum to create custom masks made with software and a 3D printer.

BENNINGTON >> Bennington Museum may sometimes be overlooked by natives, but for the next month, that can change.

From now until June 15, those who work and live in Bennington County can access the museum and it's exhibitions stretched across two floors free of charge. The goal is to encourage residents to see the stories told by "3D Digital: Here and Now," which ends next month, Director Robert Wolterstorff said.

Residents can provide a basic form of identification upon arrival to receive free access to the exhibits.

Students from Bennington College, Community College of Vermont, Northeastern Baptist College, Southern Vermont College, and Vermont Technical College of Bennington are always welcome free of charge, but this offer is extended to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Williams College, Marlboro College and Russell Sage College.

The three-dimensional exhibit demonstrates work from Bennington College students and faculty, Kaman Composites, Nahanco, R. John Wright Dolls, Inc., K&E Plastics and others. There are chair prototypes, three-dimensional faces generated from random DNA and even information on how to construct a house on Mars.

"We think of technology as apps, not hi-tech molding of physical things," Wolterstorff said. "It's so important for Benningtonians to see the things manufactured here and shipped across the world and to Mars. I want them all to see it."

Bennington companies manufacture components for military defense, hangars, cars, dolls and plastic, among others. Wolterstorff said many locals aren't aware of this.


"You almost can't make anything without digital [technology]. You can email digital files, then print them in 3D," he said. "Digital design doesn't occupy space. You can have a huge catalog, but not inventory. The change with this technology will be profound."

Wolterstorff estimated that not half of the museum's attendance is by residents. This is the first time a free admission month has been offered.

The difference between other museums and the Bennington Museum is that exhibits have a connection to the geographical area, for example, the Grandma Moses display.

"It's all art of Vermont," Wolterstorff said. "We like to look at us as a gateway to the area. The art tells the story of what Vermont is. We've been progressive and forward thinking with an edgy attitude. It gets overlooked. I see Vermont as two things at once, and that makes it cool. Bennington makes and the world takes."

The museum is currently open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Wednesday. Starting in June, the museum will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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