About the Colony
Kimberli Curry, Exhibition Director at The Library of Congress
Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints, Prints and Photographs Division at The Library of Congress
Robin Rausch, Music Specialist at The Library of Congress
The MacDowell Colony is an artist colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and it was started in 1907 by Edward and Marian MacDowell. And Edward MacDowell was a pianist and composer. And his theory was that artists could learn from one another.
The thing that really strikes me is that the MacDowell Colony was very smart to realize that it was important to bring together creators from different disciplines, and the Library in fact in this exhibition shows that the Library has long thought and collected along interdisciplinary lines, which is really crucial, because so many major creative and intellectual movements thread through different disciplines and are expressed in different media.
Many of America's finest works have come out of the MacDowell Colony, such as the works that you can see in the treasures case of this exhibit, like Aaron Copeland's “Billy the Kid,” Thornton Wilder's play “Our Town,” DuBose and Dorothy Heyward's play “Porgy,” which of course was immortalized by George Gershwin in his opera “Porgy and Bess,” Leonard Bernstein's “Mass,” James Baldwin's novel, “Giovanni's Room.” James Baldwin also worked on his “Notes of a Native Son” at the MacDowell Colony.
MacDowell was the first artist colony in the United States, and it served as a model for other art colonies across the United States, like Yaddo, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, just giving artists the permission, the space, and the inspiration to create has been nurturing artists at the MacDowell Colony for 100 years, and will continue to nurture the artists that go to the MacDowell Colony.