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Chesterwood’s executive director awarded prestigious fellowship at the American Academy in Rome

Donna Hassler
May 3, 2018 11:31 am

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Donna Hassler, executive director of Chesterwood and administrator of the Historic Artists’ Home and Studios (HAHS) Program, has been awarded a National Trust for Historic Preservation Affiliated Fellowship of the American Academy in Rome during April.

While at the Academy, Hassler, an art historian and authority on American sculpture, will retrace the steps of distinguished 20th-century public sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850-1931) in Italy when he was a young student, as well as subsequent trips there later in his career. French, who was a founding board member of the Academy, maintained diaries of his European travels, now in the collection of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Hassler will keep a written and visual diary of her experiences as she explores French’s life in Italy on Instagram @ChesterwoodNTHP and #dcfrenchinitaly.

“I am looking forward to this exciting opportunity to experience Rome and several other cities in Italy through the eyes of Daniel Chester French. It will enhance my knowledge of the sculptor’s interest in classical and Italianate art and architecture, especially as it influenced his own work, as well as the creation of his impressive artist’s retreat at Chesterwood, his summer home, studio and gardens in the Berkshires,” Hassler said.

Founded in 1894, the American Academy in Rome is the oldest American overseas center for independent study and advanced research in the arts and humanities. A not-for-profit, privately funded institution, the Academy awards the Rome Prize to a select group of artists and scholars annually, after an application process that begins each fall. The winners, selected by independent juries through a national competition process, are invited to Rome the following year to pursue their work in an atmosphere conducive to intellectual and artistic experimentation and interdisciplinary exchange.

Awards are offered in the following categories: Literature, music composition, visual arts, architecture, landscape architecture, design, and historic preservation and conservation, as well as ancient, medieval, renaissance and early modern, and modern Italian studies. The Academy also invites a select group of residents, affiliated fellows, and visual artists and scholars to work together with this exceptional community in Rome. To learn more, see

According to Katherine Malone-France, vice-president for historic sites at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “The National Trust is thrilled that Donna Hassler will be able to spend a sabbatical at the American Academy working on a project that is so closely tied to Daniel Chester French, his creative process, and the retreat he created at Chesterwood. I am certain that she will return with a new understanding of French and his influences, but also with new connections to continue Chesterwood’s relationships with contemporary artists and scholars.”

Chesterwood opens 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily to the public for its 2018 season on May 26 through Oct. 8 and will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends through Oct. 31. Chesterwood is located at 4 Williamsville Road, off Rte. 183, in Stockbridge. For information, see or call 413-298-3579.