Bennington Collects at Bennington Museum

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BENNINGTON — Bennington Collects, a look at an eclectic selection of more than a dozen collections that have been assembled by residents of the greater Bennington area, opens at Bennington Museum on Saturday. From comic books, diecast model cars, and video games to items one might not think of as a collection, such as antique and vintage outboard motors, microphones, model ocean liners, and Titanic memorabilia, people are constantly gathering objects and classifying them with their own personal system.

"This was a particularly difficult exhibition to create due to the vast and varied collections that were brought to my attention," said Jamie Franklin, the museum's curator. "It is my hope that we have included a wonderful sampling of what has piqued individuals' curiosities and brought them joy in collecting.

"It is through the care and thought that is put into the gathering and preservation of objects such as those seen in the exhibition, that institutions such as the Bennington Museum are able to step in later and watch after and interpret them for perpetuity," Franklin continued. "In the end, our human desire to collect may be an instinctual way of preserving our culture, not only for ourselves but also for generations to come."

One of the collections included in the exhibition is a selection of comic books from Martin Mosher, a Bennington postal worker whose collection in 2016 exceeded 20,000 books. "I started collecting comics in 1979. I was 12 years old and delivering newspapers," Mosher said. "I lived in Troy then and went to Fantaco, a comic book store in Albany." And the rest is history. "In 1980, I attended a comic convention in Albany. I had $50 on me at the time and brought comics. I met some comic writers and artists. In 1982, Aquilonia Comics opened in Troy, New York a few blocks from my house. I have been getting comics there ever since."

From musician Stephen Anisman comes a collection of microphones. "I've been a musician since I was very young," Anisman said, "but have only recently developed an interest in recording. It's been remarkably interesting and rewarding to learn about this discipline, as the learning curve is steep, but the information is rich and fun to learn." It was this interest in music that sparked Anisman's collection of microphones.

"This is a working collection. They've been chosen either because they have a unique character of which I want to take advantage, or because they're versatile 'workhorse' microphones that can do a good job on a variety of sound sources. Some, I bought just because I think they look cool, but even these have potential uses. "

Chuck Webster collects antique and vintage outboard motors. Growing up on a lake, boating was and still is a large part of Webster's life. In his youth, he raced outboard hydroplanes, and when that ended, he began his collection of old outboards. Today, his collection numbers 40, ranging from a 1938 Elto Pal 1.1, his first motor, to Mercury motors with varying horsepower. "I enjoy the hunt for old motors and then the restoration of them," Webster said. "It is satisfying to take a motor that has been sitting unused for many years and make it run again."

An opening reception to be held on Friday, April 13, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., will provide opportunities to meet the collectors and talk with them about what inspired their collection. Tickets for the reception are $25 for nuseum members and $35 for non-members. There will be a cash bar, with a collection of Vermont beers, savories and sweets, and a chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum for those who pay for their reservation by today. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 802-447-1571, extension 200. Bennington Collects is on view Saturday through June 13.

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