daguerreotype in gilt frame of Amherst College

Emily Dickinson’s Amherst College, December 4, 12-1:15pm

daguerreotype in gilt frame of Amherst College

Amherst College circa 1855. Half plate ambrotype by E.W. Cowles, courtesy of Amherst College Archives and Special Collections.


Join Museum staff for a lively lunchtime talk about the impact of Amherst College on the life of poet Emily Dickinson. 

The Dickinson family were instrumental to the College during its first 75 years, beginning with Samuel Fowler Dickinson’s part in its founding and continuing with Edward and Austin’s combined 60 years of service as treasurers. The College was an early and lasting influence in Dickinson’s own life, playing an inestimable role in her early education & friendships, and later connecting her to an ever-widening local and global community. Through original photographs and archival documents, encounter some of the people and places that defined Dickinson’s 19th century Amherst College, including students, professors, workers, and alumni. 

Following the talk, enjoy the Q&A with museum guides Stephanie Bennett, Brenna Macaray, Dr. Christopher Fobare, and Anna Plummer.


All are welcome to attend this free program, but registration is required. Register in advance via zoom. 
Questions? Please write edmprograms@emilydickinsonmuseum.org. 

An image of Emily is collaged with music, text, a landscape of pine trees and gold edging to form wings behind her

My Emily Dickinson: A Story Collecting Project, 2020

An image of Emily is collaged with music, text, a landscape of pine trees and gold edging to form wings behind her

Art by Nuala O’Connor, inspired by poem F510, ‘Upholsterer of the Pines – is He –’

In honor of Emily Dickinson’s 190th birthday, the Museum is collecting your stories! This project seeks to document the many Emily Dickinsons that exist in the hearts of contemporary readers. So many of us feel a deep connection to Dickinson’s life, her poetry, or to both. For some, we read her work as young students in school and become curious about the woman who lowered gingerbread from her window; others of do not find Dickinson until we are older and her poetry’s themes of loss and hope begin to resonate profoundly; still others find that Dickinson’s wit and fierce individuality is a touchstone. Whoever Emily Dickinson is to you, we want to hear about it! A handful of participant video’s will be selected for screening during the virtual Dickinson Birthday Celebration on December 10th. All submissions that follow the project instructions will be included in the project gallery webpage and on view to the public at EmilyDickinsonMuseum.org. 

Story collecting will continue until December 31, 2020, but only stories submitted by December 3 will be considered for inclusion in the Museum’s birthday celebration.


Instructions for submissions:

  • Participants should choose one prompt to respond to from the list below. Make a digital recording of yourself responding to that prompt and telling the story of your Emily Dickinson. Recordings must not exceed 3-minutes in length. Recordings may be video or audio only, but preference will be given to video stories for sharing during the Birthday Celebration.
  • Please begin your recording my saying “My name is [FIRST NAME] and I am coming to you from [CITY, STATE, AND/OR COUNTRY]….”
  • Prompts: (Please choose one) 
    • I first met Emily Dickinson when…
    • I had a weird Emily Dickinson encounter…
    • I associate Emily Dickinson with…
    • To me, Emily Dickinson is…
  • By submitting this file, you grant the Emily Dickinson Museum permission to share this video publicly. 
  • Save your file with your name in the title.
    • Video files should be in one of the following preferred formats: MOV, MP4, WMV, FLV
    • Audio-only recordings may be sent in any preferred digital format
  • Visit our collecting drive to upload your file safely and securely. CLICK HERE TO UPLOAD.
Text from poem fr660: "I Took my Power in my Hand - And went against The World -"

Statement in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

Text from poem fr660: "I Took my Power in my Hand - And went against The World -"


This statement was originally released on June 3rd 2020:

Today, in our distress over recent devastating events, we stand with our community and with the Black Lives Matter movement against racial injustice and inequality. We recognize that real change is necessary both in our country and in our museum.⁣

We believe that museums are not neutral: they should be part of public conversations on contemporary issues such as racism, injustice, and oppression. Museums have long been institutions that hold and reflect cultural values and collective memory. Now, they have an even greater responsibility to be active participants in challenging age-old and contemporary systems of oppression. ⁣

Like other museums, the Emily Dickinson Museum has a duty to examine the history it teaches and to expand the stories it tells. Emily Dickinson lived through a catastrophic Civil War rooted in racial injustice and oppression. Her family was part of a society that benefited from the labor of immigrants, African Americans, and Native Americans in service to a privileged White majority. The poet’s literary work was made possible by the labor of these domestic servants. The Emily Dickinson Museum strives to tell this full story. Our new interpretive plan will place greater emphasis on the perspectives of Irish, Native American, and free Black workers in the Dickinson households, making plain issues of race and class in Dickinson family daily life. ⁣

At the Emily Dickinson Museum we recognize that this interpretive work is but one step in the greater effort to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and access for audiences, staff, and leadership in institutions like ours. Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice became an agent of change, both in the literary canon and in the lives of individuals who find depths of meaning in her account of our human condition. As an institution, we are committed to the continuous work of change that museums can and should be doing to build an equitable society.

EMILYTOBER: A collection of prompts for Artober

#Emilytober Prompt List – Be Inspired, October 1st – 31st!

Artists wrestled here!
Lo, a tint Cashmere!
Lo, a Rose!
Student of the Year!
For the Easel here,
Say Repose!



Since 2009, artists from all over the world have chosen to spend October participating in challenges based on lists of prompts put together by other artists and institutions. Some make a piece of work every day, some every other day, and others are happy to simply take inspiration from all the lists floating around. We’re so excited to be participating in this year’s #Artober by releasing our own list of prompts consisting of phrases from Dickinson poems! We encourage you to pick and choose from the prompts, to work from either the lines we’ve provided or from the whole poems from which they’ve been plucked, and to create in any medium you desire. We look forward to seeing what you create—make sure to tag us on social media so we catch your work! You can tag your pieces with #artober2020, #emilytober, and @emilydickinson.museum. We’ll share our favorites from our instagram account, and feature some of them here on our website!

Update! The #Emilytober Gallery is live!
Check out all the fantastic work here!


Emilytober #Artober Prompt List, 2020

The prompts are arranged in a grid over an orange background featuring a faded image of a mushroom, and framed by images of a skull, flowers, and vines

Full text of each prompt, in order, with Franklin edition reference numbers

  1. F32 The maple wears a gayer scarf –
  2. F1158 Best Witchcraft is Geometry
  3. F1350 The Mushroom is the Elf of Plants –
  4. F168 Ah, Necromancy Sweet!
  5. F1286 There is no Frigate like a Book
  6. F407 One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted
  7. F796 The Lightning showed a Yellow Beak And then a livid Claw –
  8. F111 Artists wrestled here!
  9. F1268 A Word dropped careless on a Page
  10. F1199 For Captain was the Butterfly
  11. F1163 A Spider sewed at Night
  12. F166 Dust is the only Secret.
  13. F260 I’m Nobody! Who are you?
  14. F1393 Those Cattle smaller than a Bee
  15. F656 the Mermaids in the Basement/Came out to look at me –
  16. F1426 Buccaneers of Buzz –
  17. F140 Bring me the sunset in a cup –
  18. F1394 The long sigh of the Frog
  19. F916 Or Porch of Gnome
  20. F918 We met as Sparks – Diverging Flints
  21. F479 The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality.
  22. F162 From some old Fortress on the sun
  23. F1311 Art thou the thing I wanted?
  24. F1489 A Route of Evanescence,
  25. F296 Where ships of purple gently toss
  26. F1649 Back from the Cordial Grave I drag thee
  27. F1402 His Heart was darker than the starless night
  28. F1405 The absence of the Witch does not Invalidate the spell –
  29. F200 The Rose did caper on her cheek –
  30. F89 Imps in eager caucus
  31. F710 Where Squirrels play – and Berries dye – And Hemlocks – bow – to God
  32. F43 The Satyrs fingers beckoned
  33. F1747 That Love is all there is/Is all we know of Love,
  34. F509 A curious Cloud surprised the Sky
  35. F510 Upholsterer of the Pines – is He –
arts night

Amherst Arts Night with The Literacy Project, December 3, 2020

arts night

During the pandemic, the Emily Dickinson Museum is celebrating monthly Amherst Arts Night Plus with remote poetry programs every first Thursday at 6:30pm (EST).

This program is free to attend. Registration is required. Click here to register!

Students of The Literacy Project in the Dickinson family parlor.




Featured readers: The Literacy Project

The Literacy Project presents original poems, essays, and stories written and read by students of The Literacy Project. The Literacy Project provides adult basic education programs and opportunities that support participants to engage meaningfully and equitably in the economic, social, cultural and civic life of their communities. With a staff of 20 and 75 volunteers, the Project now offers classes in basic literacy, high school equivalency and college and career readiness at 5 locations in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts: Greenfield, Orange, Northampton, Amherst and Ware.


Emily Dickinson Birthday Celebration, December 10, 2020 from 12-1 p.m.


You are cordially invited to the Emily Dickinson Museum’s virtual celebration of the poet’s 190th birthday! On Thursday, December 10, join us for an afternoon of fun including a team bake of Dickinson’s famous Black Cake, a make-at-home craft demo, music, an aerial journey over Amherst, screenings of videos from our “My Emily Dickinson” collecting project, and finally the singing of the birthday song. Don’t forget to sign the virtual guest-book, and be prepared for poll questions and surprises along the way!

All are welcome to this free program but registration is required. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER. 

Give a Birthday Gift

It’s not a birthday party without gifts! Although many of the Museum’s online programs are free of charge, if you’re looking to honor Emily with a birthday present, please consider a donation to our Annual Fund. The museum’s mission is not possible without your support. Your donation will go directly towards the study, preservation, and celebration of Emily Dickinson’s life and work.


About Dickinson’s Birthday

Emily Dickinson, the middle child of Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson, was born on December 10, 1830, in the family Homestead on Main Street in Amherst, Massachusetts. She celebrated 55 birthdays before her death in 1886. As an adult she wrote, “We turn not older with years, but newer every day.” (Johnson L379)


Special thanks to these partners in our Birthday Celebration:

James Arnold

Steven Glazer and students

Emily Walhout and the Houghton Library at Harvard University

Alena Smith


Folger Library Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute with Dorianne Laux, December 10, 2020 – REMOTE PROGRAM

folgerJoin us on December 10 for the Folger Shakespeare Library’s birthday tribute to Emily Dickinson! Each year, this program brings speakers, scholars, and fans of Emily Dickinson’s work together to celebrate the illustrious poet and her writing. This year poet, Dorianne Laux will read original poems in conversation with Dickinson poems. To purchase tickets to the Birthday Tribute, please visit the Folger’s website.

With language that is at times sensually earthy then heavenly lyrical, Dorianne Laux’s poems share their wisdom and beauty like a slowly opening rose. She is the author of five collections of poetry, including Only as the Day is Long, a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize. She teaches poetry at North Carolina State University and is a founding faculty member of Pacific University’s Low Residency MFA Program. Laux is a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and a recipient of the Paterson Prize.

Death Comes to Me Again, a Girl

Death comes to me again, a girl in a cotton slip.
Barefoot, giggling. It’s not so terrible, she tells me,
not like you think: all darkness and silence.`

There are wind chimes and the scent of lemons.
Some days it rains. But more often the air
is dry and sweet. We sit beneath the staircase
built from hair and bone and listen
to the voices of the living.

I like it, she says, shaking the dust from her hair.
Especially when they fight, and when they sing.

From Only as the Day is Long: new and selected poems. Reprinted with permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. www.boaeditions.org



Emily Dickinson's white dress on a stand in her bedroom

“A Mighty Room” Studio Session: Bedroom, December 18, 12-1p.m.

Emily's bedroom with her dress and bed and writing tableSweet hours have perished here;

This is a mighty room;

Within its precincts hopes have played, —

Now shadows in the tomb.  




Spend a “sweet hour” in Emily Dickinson’s creative space where she penned her startling poetry. Whether you are a writer, an artist, a composer, or a poet, you’ll find solace and inspiration for your artistic output in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom. Let this quiet virtual experience jumpstart your next creative journey. 

What to expect: As one of a limited number of participants, you will need to find a quiet spot with a good internet connection from which to be immersed in a live feed from the poet’s bedroom in the Dickinson family Homestead. Plan to have your camera and audio on. In this room Dickinson found freedom working up late by lamplight. A facilitator in the room welcomes you and gently guides you through three inspirational writing prompts to help you explore this unique physical and psychic space and unleash your own creativity over the course of the hour. Focused on reflection and quietude, this program is not a writing workshop, but you will have the opportunity at the end for a short share-out with the group if you wish. 

Space is limited for this program and you may be added to a waitlist. To sign up please click this link to visit our registration form.

This program is free to participate, but your donation helps the Museum to continue providing free programs! Participants will be invited to make an online donation after the program.

Hours & Admission

Matching Challenge Successful!

Studio Sessions

More than 160 donors came together to match–and surpass!–the challenge offered by the Emily Dickinson Museum’s Board of Governors. In May, they pledged to match all gifts dollar-for-dollar up to $40,000 contributed to the Museum by June 30. Today, these gifts total more than $65,000. The Emily Dickinson Museum is deeply grateful for these acts of generosity and your confidence in the Museum and its mission during these trying times.
Your support for the Museum’s ability to endure, to create new resources and continue its programming is vitally important. We deeply appreciate every gift!



Exciting News of an Extraordinary Gift


The Endowed Gift, the Largest Ever Received by the Museum, is to be Used for the Maintenance and Improvement of Its Buildings, Grounds and Collections

The Remainder Will Fund the Maintenance of Pianos for the College’s Music Department

(AMHERST, Mass., June 5, 2019) — Amherst College today announced a gift of approximately $25 million from the late William McC. Vickery ’57 to the College’s endowment, approximately $22 million of which is designated for use by the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass. The transformative gift, the largest ever received by the museum, will be known as the “William McCall Vickery ’57 Emily Dickinson Fund” and is specifically earmarked for the maintenance and improvement of its buildings, grounds and collections. Vickery, who was a devoted Amherst alumnus, volunteer, employee and supporter, also was a founding member of the Dickinson Museum’s board of governors.

The Emily Dickinson Museum was founded in 2003 when the neighboring house, The Evergreens, a 19th-century Dickinson home, was transferred to the College. (The Dickinson Homestead has been owned by the College since 1965.). Today, the Museum includes those two historic structures, three acres of the original Dickinson landscape, and more than 7,000 objects. The Museum, a part of Amherst College, earns and raises independently the majority of its own resources.

Of Vickery’s gift, Amherst College President Biddy Martin said, “There was no aspect of Amherst’s mission that did not interest him, no area of the College that did not benefit from his energetic, wry, and deeply insightful engagement. His gift to the Emily Dickinson Museum is a gift to us all and to generations to come, as is his gift to the College’s Department of Music. Bill understood and he helped ensure that the poetry and music that were special to him will remain at the heart of Amherst.”

A pivotal figure in the Museum’s advancement over the last 16 years, “Bill Vickery truly cherished the Emily Dickinson Museum,” said Executive Director Jane Wald. “He was acutely aware of the importance—and possibility—of restoring Emily Dickinson’s Homestead, her brother’s house, The Evergreens, and the historic gardens and grounds. He was at the lead in every undertaking for the Museum’s improvement, and his quiet enthusiasm was infectious and never deterred. His transformative gift will enable the Museum to become the true center of celebration of Emily Dickinson’s life and work.”

Part of the Vickery’s gift will be used to create the “William McCall Vickery ’57 Piano Fund” to fund the restoring, rebuilding, repairing and purchasing of pianos for the College’s music department. A patron of the music program at Amherst, in 2007, in honor of his 50th reunion, Vickery endowed The William McCall Vickery 1957 Professorship, honoring a senior faculty member who is distinguished by and dedicated to teaching and research of art history or musicology.

John Beeson ‘71, chair of the Board of Governors, said, “Bill’s extraordinary legacy gift will inspire others to support a wide range of projects related both to historic preservation and to the continued expansion of key programs about Emily Dickinson’s life and significance. It will require that continued support to help realize the full potential of Bill Vickery’s vision.”

Born in Savannah, Ga., Vickery attended Ridgewood High School in New Jersey. At Amherst College, he majored in economics and graduated cum laude. After earning an MBA from Harvard Business School, he launched a 27-year career in advertising with Dancer Fitzgerald Sample in New York City. In 1987, Vickery retired as vice chair of the company’s board and chair of DFS International. The year following his retirement, Vickery began his “second career” at his alma mater, holding positions in Advancement and as assistant treasurer until his retirement in 2008. Throughout his life, Vickery contributed generously to more than 26 individual funds at Amherst College, including the Russian Culture Fund, the Robert Frost Statue Fund, the squash courts renovation fund, the Orchestra Fund, the women’s basketball program, and the Choral Society, and he endowed the William McCall Vickery 1957 Professor of the History of Art.

Throughout the years, Vickery’s philanthropy set an example and inspired others to support the Emily Dickinson Museum. He served on its collections and physical plant committee and development committee and was a generous supporter of the Museum’s operations and restoration projects, including the campaign to restore Emily Dickinson’s bedroom in 2014, which Vickery led and championed.

“My husband, Hubbard, and I shared a wonderful friendship with Bill for most of our lives,” said Linda Smith, a member of the Museum’s Board of Governors. “He led us and many others into supporting the Emily Dickinson Museum in so many ways. He believed in the truth and enduring nature of Dickinson’s poetry, and he demonstrated his commitment to the Museum’s future over and over again by his extraordinary generosity.” 

Since its inception, the Museum has welcomed more than 150,000 visitors from 50 countries and serves as the premier center for study, interpretation, and celebration of Emily Dickinson’s place in literature, history, and culture. This generous gift will support the Museum in furthering its mission to spark the imagination by amplifying Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn more at www.EmilyDickinsonMuseum.org.

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2021.