The directions to get to the Bread and Puppet Museum in Glover, Vermont from nearby Barton were simple enough. Still I managed to take a wrong turn which I noticed only after I had my first Bread and Puppet sighting:
Even without the identifier painted above the windshield, I would have recognized a Bread and Puppet bus anywhere. In this case the bus was in for a little TLC at the local mechanic. Wrong turn or not I knew I couldn’t be too far away. I turned myself 180 degrees around and headed properly towards Glover. My little unplanned detours took me past some lovely hand painted signage–something I’m always on the lookout for.
and this very enticing motel
with seven rooms to choose from. (I’d like the Aardvark’s Attic please!)
I know if I don’t stick this excellent, excellent sign I saw in Lyndonville now I’m going to miss the opportunity to show it to you altogether.
OK, on to Glover! On this, the first of three visits to Bread and Puppet, I pulled into the uncongested parking lot
I slipped right in beside the B and P vehicle that was not paying a visit to the mechanic:
crossed the street to the BIG barn
adorned with the signature Bread and Puppet signage
and found a hive of activity in the yard. It was the Friday before the last Sunday performance of the season and there was still paper-mache-ing to be done!
I chatted awhile with this fellow and headed up the wooden stairs to the upper floor of the barn which houses five decades of puppets from Bread and Puppet performances around the globe. I’ve visited the museum four times now, but each time when I reach the top of the stairs and catch my first site of the collection it takes my breath away.
Here I am in the converted dairy barn, given to Bread and Puppet visionary , Peter Schumann and his wife Elka, by Elka’s parents, the last farmers on this property in Glover, Vermont. The barn, now known as the Bread and Puppet Museum, houses, as Peter describes his creations, “the retired warriors from the battles against the tides.” There is no shortage of causes that Peter and his ever-changing cast of puppeteers have taken on over the decades and so the barn is stuffed to overflowing with every manner of puppet who has fought the good fight. Every inch of floor except the central walkway,
every inch of the walls,
and every plank between the ceiling rafters is covered.
One recognizes familiar heroes here and there. Our founding fathers:
(Our memory of elementary school history lessons is jogged by proper museum signage)
I see an understandably doleful Abe Lincoln:
And over there, isn’t that Oscar Romero?!?!
We are awed by the mythical beings of gigantic proportions
several soaring to the rafters to look down upon the little folk populating the earth at their feet.
there are deities, demons and demigogues
There are victims and perpetrators.
and grandmothers who have seen it all
Royalty (Let them eat cake”) :
Impresarios (or perhaps our elected officials):
And beasts–let us not forget the noble beasts:
And reminders here are there of the impermanence of the collection:
Suspended through-out the museum are globes which simply cannot contain and sustain the burden assigned to our humble sphere, Earth.
There are little drawings lined up like storyboards.
This one, a one word poem:
And everywhere, everywhere images of fire:
Contained in the Bread and Puppet Museum:
I return to Bread and Puppet in October and have a happy encounter with Peter Schumann. With Peter leading the way I will visit the Memory Forest and Paper Mache Cathedral in my next post…