Press Releases

Unseen Hours Exhibit Opens at Fruitlands Museum Sept. 15

Harvard, MA  |  September 3, 2021

Fruitlands Museum announces the exhibition Unseen Hours: Space Clearing for Spirit Work, opening September 15, 2021, featuring a new body of work by Allison Halter and Maria Molteni. This exhibition marks the premiere of the short film Sacred Sheets, created in the Shaker Office building and on the grounds of Fruitlands Museum. This elegant, collaborative film shines light on the artists’ shared interest in visionary culture, communion with the spiritual realm, and natural phenomena.

The film innovatively integrates the Fruitlands collection, using historic works alongside custom hand-crafted objects created for the project. The artists perform choreographed ritual movements against the rich backdrop of the museum’s grounds and eighteenth-century Shaker Office. Blending the ethereal with the earthly and physical, Unseen Hours, shot by cinematographer Gabe Elder, is an investigation into the threads that connect the artists’ interdisciplinary pursuits.

“Maria Molteni first visited Fruitlands as an artist-in-residence in 2017,” said Curator Shana Dumont Garr. “The initial project changed due to the pandemic and it provided us an additional year to bring their incredible research and vision to fruition. I am thrilled with the collaborators they invited, Allison Halter and Gabe Elder, and how this film, and the accompanying installations, might give guests a sense of the incredible potential of historic spaces to inspire creativity and innovative approaches to understanding culture and nature.”

The film shows Halter and Molteni enacting a space clearing ritual, a ceremonial resetting of an architectural space that simultaneously refreshes the spirit. The shifting qualities of light over the course of a single day forms the arc of their performance, providing intimate views to activities like beekeeping, sweeping, and creating an intricate cut-paper installation on the floor of the building. Their movements are inspired by a variety of sources, including traditional Shaker dancing, honey bee mapping, and alchemical spellwork. Weaving together elements of past and present into a timeless and cyclical narrative, Sacred Sheets suggests a parallel between ritual practices, repetitive labor, and the creative process.

Programming information

On September 18th and 19th, in celebration of the Exhibition’s opening weekend, Trustees Members are invited to join our Curator and Artists for special members only talks and film screenings.

Allison Halter will offer a “Brooms and Space Clearing Rituals” workshop on Saturday October 30th.  Participants will have time to envision an area of their lives (in the physical or psychic realm) that they want to create more spaciousness within, and practice building a vocabulary of gestures to usher old energy out to invite new energy in.

On December 11, Artists Maria Molteni and Andrew Mowbray will both participate in a unique outdoor program, “In the Round: A Fireside Discussion.” This program is an opportunity for guests to be in dialogue with these two artists to learn more about their time at Fruitlands and artist residencies that intersect with Shaker history, social practice, craft, and more. We will plan to gather outdoors around fire pits.

Please visit for more information.

About Fruitlands Museum
Fruitlands Museum, a property of the Trustees since 2016, is a historic, natural, and cultural destination in Harvard, MA. Founded in 1914 by author and preservationist Clara Endicott Sears, the Museum takes its name from an experimental utopian community that existed on this site in 1843 and was led by Transcendentalists Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane. Fruitlands is dedicated to New England history, art, and nature, and its collections include: The Fruitlands Farmhouse, The Shaker Gallery, The Native American Gallery, and The Art Gallery. It is located on 210 acres of land with panoramic views of the Nashua River Valley, including 2.5 miles of meadows and woodland recreational trails. 

About The Trustees
Founded by landscape architect Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees has, for 130 years, been a catalyst for important ideas, endeavors, and progress in Massachusetts. As a steward of distinctive and dynamic places of both historic and cultural value, The Trustees is the nation’s first preservation and conservation organization, and its landscapes and landmarks continue to inspire discussion, innovation, and action today as they did in the past. We are a nonprofit, supported by members, friends and donors and our 120 sites are destinations for residents, members, and visitors alike, welcoming millions of guests annually.