For years these instruments have rested in the collections upstairs, displayed in glass cases among the everyday and exceptional objects of Bennington’s history, meticulously cared for by the museum staff as they creep out of tune. But these instruments were not made to be preserved behind glass, and beneath their historical patina they retain a fundamental purpose: to be sounded in the present. These are magical tools, made from centuries-old materials, that can communicate across times and worlds and connect us to one another.
The clap of the watchman’s rattle, the twang of the banjo, and the thump of a bass drum are resonances that, like the objects which make them, are tethered to history. Sounding and listening are practices bound up in legacies of people, place, and power. These objects call forth histories of war, empire, colonialism, nationalism, spirituality, technological innovation, race and gender inequality. More broadly, they insist on the importance of music and collective soundmaking as essential practices in the creation of identity, community, and history. They emerge out of a shared past that is unstable, contested, noisey, and filled with silences. (re)Sounding explores the ways in which these instruments can summon that shared past into this room, into (this) time.