Emily Dickinson Museum
The Emily Dickinson Museum consists of two historic houses in the center of Amherst, Massachusetts: The Homestead and The Evergreens. Both structures are closely associated with the poet Emily Dickinson and members of her family. The Homestead was the poet's birthplace and home from 1830 to 1886. The Evergreens, next door, was home to her brother Austin, his wife Susan, and their three children. An impressive "time capsule" of a prosperous 19th-century household in New England, The Evergreens is furnished and decorated as it was when the family lived there.
This National Historic Landmark is now a museum dedicated to educating diverse audiences about Emily Dickinson's life, family, creative work, and enduring relevance. The Emily Dickinson Museum was created in 2003 when the two houses merged under the ownership of Amherst College. The museum is committed to preserving and interpreting The Homestead and The Evergreens as historical resources for the benefit of scholars and the general public. The museum's interdisciplinary approach explores the poet's life by drawing upon current scholarship in social and cultural history, women's studies, architectural history, and landscape design.
In its first year, the museum received critical seed funding from a $200,000 federal Save America's Treasures grant. This grant provided the museum with the resources to perform a breathtaking exterior restoration of The Homestead, install modern electrical, fire detection, and water mitigation systems, and develop a comprehensive plan for the long-term preservation of the two homes. The national impact of the Save America's Treasures grant was to enable the museum to leverage an additional $507,500 in private support. According to Jane Wald, executive director of the museum, "Save America's Treasures funding established a solid foundation and a bright future for a young museum, one that preserves the legacy of one of our nation's most precious cultural icons."
In addition to their historical and educational significance, the projects funded by Save America's Treasures have had a positive economic impact in Amherst. They have employed local contractors and boosted museum attendance from 7,500 in 2003 to 12,500 in 2009. The increased visitation has created job openings for museum employees and stimulated the commercial areas surrounding the museum.
Save America's Treasures projects like the Emily Dickinson Museum demonstrate that historic preservation creates jobs and supports sustainable communities.