Poet Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts at “The Homestead,” in the mid-1800s.
During her lifetime she was known to be a quiet, unassuming woman. Her life revolved around schooling, reading, and religious activities, all of which deeply influenced her writing. Though she produced more than 1800 poems in her lifetime, very few were published during her lifetime. After her death, her poems and life story were presented to the world through the efforts of family members and close friends.
The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst was created in 2003 when two houses that were central to the life of the Dickinson family, were merged under the ownership of Amherst College. The mission of the Museum is to educate audiences about Dickenson’s life, family, creative work, and her relevance in American literary history.
The Museum has worked to establish itself as a historical resource center for scholars and to strengthen Dickinson’s contributions as a writer. Over the last thirteen years the Museum has established national professional development workshops for teachers, worked to establish poetry contests and marathons for school-aged children in local and national arenas, and created hands-on programs to encourage the love of poetry.
The Museum offers tours and outreach programs for local schools. Typically a visit to the facility lasts an hour and offers interactive discussion opportunities. K-12 classes are offered the opportunity to read poems aloud at the end of tours and to reflect on the experience that they have during the visit. College- level and group tours are designed with specific structure and goals in mind. There are several options available including:
1. “Emily Dickinson’s World.” This tour includes a snapshot into the daily life of the poet and includes access to her bedroom, as well as other key rooms in the family home.
2. “This Was a Poet.” A 45-minute guided tour of the Homestead that is ideal for guests who may be unfamiliar with the poet and are seeking to learn more.
3. “Grounds of Memory.” An audio tour of the outdoor Dickinson grounds. Approximately 60 minutes in length, this tour is self-guided. Guests who opt for this tour are provided with a map of the ground and can access an audio component with their own cell phone, or by obtaining an audio wand at the Tour Center.
Further information about the Museum and tours can be found at emilydickinsonmuseum.org or by calling 413-542-8161.