Toward an Ethical Imagination: Gilsonfest
Gilsonfest is a collaboration between Bard College, Historic Red Hook, Dutchess County Historical Society, and Red Hook Quilters focusing on the life of Montgomery Place gardener Alexander Gilson. Gilson was an African American slave, who after being freed stayed on as head gardener and eventually opened his own nursery business. Bard students in Professor Myra Young Armstead's spring 2019 course The Window at Montgomery Place, an Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences (ELAS) offering, conducted historical research and worked to develop an exhibition honoring Gilson that is on view at the Historic Red Hook Annex.
Food Microbiology: Cider Making
This biology course will be offered by Gabriel Perron in fall 2019 as an ELAS offering. The course explores different concepts in food microbiology, environmental sciences, and biochemistry associated with the process of cider making at Montgomery Place Orchards. At the beginning of the course, students learn how to best pick apples throughout the harvest season based on their chemical properties and how to produce sweet cider in aseptic conditions. Students then learn how to harness and characterize the microbial life associated with fermentation to favor the production of natural cider in a commercial capacity. Back in the lab, students learn to monitor the safe production of cider by conducting different assays that are commonly used in state-mandated analytical laboratories. In addition to the practical aspects of the course, students also engage in discussion regarding the societal issues associated with cider making and food safety in general both locally and internationally.
Spring Sculpture Exhibition: Steel and Scale Remarks
Professor Arthur Gibbons’s spring sculpture class, Steel, presents their work in an exhibition titled Steel and Scale Remarks. The work was on view on the grounds of Montgomery Place through July 2019. Artists created and installed site-specific works throughout the Montgomery Place grounds, including in trees and water features. The inspiration for these steel sculptures came from a study of Montgomery Place’s collection of 19th-century outdoor furniture and sculpture, which was on display concurrently with the student exhibition.
The Hudson Valley Apple Project
Over two weeks during the 2017 winter break, five Bard students in Experimental Humanities conceived, designed, and built an interactive website that includes a database of more than 800 cultivars grown in New York State, including about 60 varieties grown in the orchards on Bard’s Montgomery Place Campus. The students enriched their project, connecting it to place and their experience, by building relationships with local historians at Historic Red Hook as they worked in their archives, as well as a community of Dutchess County apple growers, informally interviewing them on visits to their farms. Funding for this project was made possible through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and from Bard's Center for Civic Engagement (CCE).
The Window at Montgomery Place
This student-curated exhibit, which opened in the Red Hook Village Hall in December 2017, provided an overview of the development and management of the Montgomery Place property, from its beginnings as a nursery and working farm to a pleasure ground for its elite residents and their peers. Special emphasis was given to the laborers who enabled the estate's business operations, maintained its landscape features, and therefore facilitated the creation of an American antebellum aristocracy. This project was part of Professor Myra Young Armstead's Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences course taught in collaboration with Bard's Center for Civic Engagement.