Berkshire Museum Begins Trading In BerkShares
BERKSHIRE MUSEUM BEGINS TRADING IN BERKSHARES
BerkShares, Inc. is pleased to announce that the Berkshire Museum, among the region’s oldest cultural institutions, has begun using the region’s newest currency, BerkShares.
Berkshire Museum will accept BerkShares as payment for museum admission, movie tickets at the Little Cinema, and purchases in its gift shop. Executive Director Van Shields says the museum is committed to recirculating BerkShares that visitors spend there. “We know that several of our existing vendors and suppliers accept Berkshares and joining the program gives us the impetus to build relationships with other local business that we currently are not engaged with.”
Located in downtown Pittsfield, Berkshire Museum offers experiences for visitors of all ages by making inspiring educational connections among art, history, and natural science. BerkShares are a natural complement to the inter-disciplinary focus of the Berkshire Museum, notes Shields. “When I first saw the actual Berkshares currency, I was impressed with the design that promotes our regional artistic, historical and natural heritage, which resonates with our mission and values.”
A Stockbridge Mohican, W. E. B. DuBois, Robyn Van En, Herman Melville, and Norman Rockwell are the local figures of national historical significance celebrated on the front of the local currency notes. The work of Berkshire-based artists Michael McCurdy, Bart Elsbach, Morgan Bulkeley, Jr., Janet Rickus, Warner Friedman, and Joan Griswold also graces the five different denominations of the currency.
BerkShares program coordinator Alice Maggio points out that the currency serves as both an educational and an economic tool. “BerkShares are only accepted by locally owned businesses in our region, and locally owned businesses make a significant contribution to sustaining local economies through jobs, taxes, and charitable giving, as well as recirculating profits regionally. So when you see a business that declares ‘BerkShares Accepted Here’ you know that you are supporting an enterprise that cares about and contributes to our local community.”
“We are glad to be expanding our presence in Pittsfield, especially with a strong partner like the Berkshire Museum,” adds BerkShares board member Catherine Chester, an attorney at Hellman Shearn & Arienti in Great Barrington. The use of BerkShares has largely been concentrated in South County due to the location of the bank branches where citizens may exchange dollars for BerkShares. Participating branches of Lee Bank, Lenox National Bank, Pittsfield Coop Bank and Salisbury Bank and Trust Company are listed online at http://berkshares.org/berkshares_banks and can be found from Lenox to Sheffield.
About the Berkshire Museum
Located in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at 39 South St., the Berkshire Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $13 adult, $6 child; Museum members and children age 3 and under enjoy free admission. For more information, visit www.berkshiremuseum.org or call 413.443.7171.
In association with the Smithsonian since 2013, Berkshire Museum is part of a select group of museums, cultural, educational, and arts organizations that share the Smithsonian's resources with the nation.
Established by Zenas Crane in 1903, Berkshire Museum integrates art, history, and natural science in a wide range of programs and exhibitions that inspire educational connections between the disciplines. Festival of Trees 2014: On Safari and Lions & Tigers & Bears: Through the Lens with National Geographic are on view now through January 4. Objectify: A Look into the Permanent Collection is currently on view. Little Cinema is open year-round. Spark!Lab, Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Worlds in Miniature, Aquarium, and other exhibits are ongoing.
Dubbed a “great economic experiment" by The New York Times, BerkShares are a local currency for the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. Citizens may exchange federal dollars for BerkShares at participating bank branches from Lenox to Sheffield at a rate of 95 cents per BerkShare. They can be spent at the 400 participating businesses as if they were dollars.
Echoing the local currencies widely used throughout the early 1900s, BerkShares serve as a tool for community economic empowerment, and development toward regional self-reliance. BerkShares are meant to maximize the circulation of goods, services, and capital within a defined region, thus strengthening the local economy.
BerkShares were launched by BerkShares, Inc., a non-profit organization, in September of 2006. Since then more than 5 million BerkShares have gone into circulation from local banks. For more information about BerkShares visit www.berkshares.org or call 413.528.1737.