Vermont History Museum Hosts Big Heavy World Exhibit: Vermont Music, Far & Wide


The state’s contemporary music history is showcased by volunteer curators

Vermont’s music spans genres and generations and reminds us how creative and diverse we are as a people, past and the present. The volunteer-staffed nonprofit Big Heavy World has curated a colorful and interactive exhibit of eclectic artifacts that showcase Vermont music history from recent decades. ‘Vermont Music, Far & Wide’ reflects on how music is an art form, a catalyst for community-building, and also a contributor to the state’s economy. The exhibit features unexpected items like the stage prop coffin doors from experimental jazz group Science Fixion and furniture smashed by an audience during a performance by electro-metal chainsaws.and.children. The exhibit will occupy the Local History Gallery of the Vermont History Museum, 109 State Street, Montpelier, from February 1 through July 27.


Many industries are joined together through music, including handcraft, industrial manufacturing, and other art forms like photography. An overview of the different stages of vinyl record production at Vermont’s only vinyl pressing plant and a (literal) inside-look at the luthiership of Creston Lea’s handmade and hand-painted electric guitars showcase these relationships. In addition, the complete ‘Sound Proof’ collection of black and white 1990-2000 band portraits taken by photographer journalist and artist Matthew Thorsen are on display with interactive audio interpretation by Thorsen and the bands in his images.


Music has also provided experiences that bring people together and make Vermont’s communities stronger. An interactive display highlights the social impact of 242 Main, the country’s longest-running all-ages punk rock venue located in Burlington.

James Lockridge, Executive Director of Big Heavy World, says, “Music unites us in many ways that improve our lives — it brings us together in person and in spirit and helps define our unique Vermont experience. History tells this story in a way you can get close to in the Local History Gallery.”

Eileen Corcoran, Vermont Historical Society Community Outreach & Media Coordinator, said, “The Local History Gallery is a wonderful chance to showcase unique and intriguing stories from Vermont’s over 200 cultural organizations at our museum. We are so excited to feature this exhibit from Big Heavy World, demonstrating the importance of talking about 20th century history, as well as the vital and creative role music plays in our state.”

‘Vermont Music Far & Wide’ was made possible with support from The Vermont Humanities Council; the Lake Champlain Basin Program; University of Vermont Office of the Vice President for Research; the City of Burlington and the Burlington Community & Economic Development Office; the Vermont Community Foundation; Seven Days; the Vermont Folklife Center; and Vermont Community Access Media (VCAM). The exhibit is presented with special thanks to Chico Lager; Eva Sollberger; Creston Lea; Andy Kolovos; Neale Lunderville; Will Clavelle; Pete Gershon, Robert Hooker and Justin Crowther.

‘Vermont Music, Far & Wide’ is wheelchair accessible. More information can be found at Contact Eileen Corcoran, Vermont History Museum, (802) 479-8500,, or James Lockridge, Big Heavy World, (802) 865-1140,

About VHS

The Vermont Historical Society (VHS) is a nonprofit organization that operates the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier, the Vermont History Center in Barre, and programming throughout the state. Established in 1838, its purpose is to reach a broad audience through outstanding collections and statewide outreach. The Vermont Historical Society believes that an understanding of the past changes lives and builds better communities. Visit the Society’s website at

Photos: Detail of a guitar handcrafted by Creston Lea and hand painted by Sarah Ryan. The collage is comprised of details in images by Matthew Thorsen from the 'Sound Proof' exhibit.

Marisa Iannitto