Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

December 5, 2014

Festival of Trees on Safari

Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA
through January 4, 2014

Berkshire Museum’s current exhibits make for a somewhat odd duo -- festive Christmas trees and an African Safari. Odd, but so effective, artistic, fun, and wide open to all sorts of creativity that the Museum is a must see early this winter.

For those who have attended “Festival of Trees” in the past, this very successful annual exhibit is new each year, featuring holiday trees of all shapes, sizes, colors, materials, and (most important) decorations. Dozens of trees are displayed throughout the second and third floors. Coupled for the first time with an equally important exhibit called “Lions & Tigers & Bears: Through the Lens with National Geographic,” the two shows exemplify this season’s theme, “On Safari.”

“Lions & Tigers & Bears...” (it’s difficult not to follow with “oh, my”) is a compelling look at wildlife photography featuring 50 photos from three of National Geographic’s top photojournalists — Michael “Nick” Nichols, Steve Winter, and Paul Nicklen. Observe the profound impact of visual storytelling with stunning images of these massive animals. Interesting reading on the displays’ signage is the story of a photographer’s harrowing experience sinking into quicksand, and a head-on shot of a majestic tiger.

In touring the Museum, trees seem to be situated around every bend and in every corner -- some larger trees stand alone, some in a mini-forest scene, and dozens of tiny trees which have been decorated by elementary schoolers on festival scaffolding. The latter is titled “The Kid Zone.” The “stars” of the show are the ornaments, all made and carefully placed by numerous Pittsfield community groups, senior centers, schools, clubs, farms, art agencies, health programs, and other non-profits.

Nearly any ornament that one can imagine dons the trees. Yes, there are the traditional decorations, and they are lovely. Especially fun are ornaments depicting a safari and wild animals made from paper mache, clothe, drawings, cutouts, and stuffing. Visitors can expect to see lots of wonderful trees with animals incorporated into the designs.

The two exhibits are sponsored by many businesses in and nearby Pittsfield. The proceeds benefit Berkshire Museum’s education program.