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Exciting News of an Extraordinary Gift

THE EMILY DICKINSON MUSEUM RECEIVES A $22 MILLION GIFT AS PART OF A $25 MILLION BEQUEST TO AMHERST COLLEGE FROM THE LATE WILLIAM MCC. VICKERY ‘57

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.

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Exciting News About Our Recent Grants

THE EMILY DICKINSON MUSEUM RECEIVES OVER $350,000 IN GRANTS FOR INTERPRETIVE PLANNING, OPERATING SUPPORT, AND RESTORATION

The grants will be used to improve and increase access to Emily Dickinson’s poetic and personal legacy in the place she called home.

cupola(AMHERST, Mass., August 28, 2019) – Today the Emily Dickinson Museum announced that it will receive over $350,000 in grants for interpretive planning, operational support, and restoration. The grants include a Public Humanities Planning grant of $63,025 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The NEH award will support a year of interpretive planning to unite the Museum’s historic spaces and collections to better serve its growing contemporary audience. Public Humanities Planning grants from the NEH are typically awarded for up to $40,000 per grantee, but larger sums are granted to exceptionally ambitious and complex proposals like the Museum’s.

Program Director Brooke Steinhauser says the grants will allow the Museum to “incorporate current scholarship and more inclusive methodologies of interpretation” into its already vibrant programming. As the site of the largest and most varied collection of non-manuscript objects associated with Emily Dickinson and her family, and as the site where Dickinson penned nearly all of her 1,789 poems, the grants will help the Museum to consider how to provide interpretation of and access to its resources, resulting in the best possible visitor experience.

The Emily Dickinson Museum is one of 16 humanities projects this cycle to receive a grant from the NEH for planning or implementation, all of which will support vital research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. The National Endowment for the Humanities preserves America’s rich history and cultural heritage, by encouraging and supporting scholarship and innovation in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, and other humanities disciplines. In addition to the work at the Emily Dickinson Museum, this round of grants will enable continued work on the papers of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, as well as publication of the complete speeches, correspondence, and writings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt, and a new scholarly edition and translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In addition to the NEH grant, the Museum will receive $245,673 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, $30,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, and $12,200 from the Massachusetts Culture Council’s Cultural Investment Portfolio. The IMLS grant will be used to catalog, manage, and maintain its 8,000+ piece collection. The planning grant from the Facilities Fund will be used to plan the restoration of the hallways, parlors, and bedrooms in the Museum, tripling the amount of restored interpretive space in the Homestead. The grant from the Cultural Investment Portfolio will support operations at the Museum. Executive Director Jane Wald says the grants will help to transform the Museum’s interpretation by “preparing to restore this private poet’s public spaces to their appearance during her most important writing years.”

Since its inception, the Emily Dickinson 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. These awards will support the Museum’s 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.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. They advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grant making, research, and policy development. Their vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov.

Managed in collaboration with MassDevelopment, the Cultural Facilities Fund provides major improvement grants to nonprofit cultural organizations, in recognition of their profound economic impact on communities across Massachusetts. Since 2006, the Fund has encouraged sound growth, supported important development projects, played a crucial role in the growth of local tourism, created thousands of jobs, and driven millions of dollars in private investment.

The Cultural Investment Portfolio provides both general operation and project-based grants to nonprofit organizations that enrich Massachusetts’ cultural life. The Portfolio works to strengthen a cultural sector that generates $1.2 billion in economic activity, creates thousands of jobs, and delivers programs to more than 20 million people a year. Not just a funder, the Portfolio is a source of invaluable expertise, advocacy, and peer dialogue.