The Berkshire Museum is excited to welcome Bridget Rigas to our team as the new Chief Engagement Officer. Bridget has more than 20 years of experience in fundraising and management of cultural and educational organizations, most recently as the Director of Development at MASS MoCA. As Chief Engagement Officer, she will be a member of the Berkshire Museum’s leadership team, and responsible for all aspects of fund development. Bridget will also oversee communications and community engagement.
The next time you visit the Museum, or join us for a special event, please take a moment to say “hello” to the newest member of our team!
Q: What part of working at the Berkshire Museum excites you most?
As a child, my father took me to museums, and my two earliest museum memories were at the American Natural History Museum (AMNH) and the Guggenheim. At AMNH, I was in awe of the dioramas that tunneled me to magical, historical moments in time and place, and still remember giggling at the “hairy elephant,” that pulled me to think deeper. At the Guggenheim, I remembered looking up at the twirl of the building and was completely astonished at the space…it’s these two memories that have attracted me to the Museum. That’s a lot of background, but at its essence this is what the Berkshire Museum is for so many people of Pittsfield: that first powerful museum experience that sparks a lifetime of learning. It means a lot to me to help ensure a bright future.
Q: What are your goals as Chief Engagement Officer?
My main goal is to make connections and learn more about how the Berkshire Museum can be a relevant part of the daily lives of our donors, members, and visitors, particularly those from Pittsfield and the surrounding region. And, of course, to attract new visitors and support. Through engagement, conversation, and meaningful programming, we can make the Berkshire Museum the place where important dialogues and reflections happen. I guess, if there is a concise vision, it is that we give every city and county resident a reason to come through the front columns and support us monthly, or even more frequently.
Q: What is your favorite piece in the Museum collection?
My favorite piece in the museum is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s desk, as an “eyewitness” object. The Scarlet Letter was my first exercise in the power of human empathy and was a favorite read as a teen, and there was a time when 19th century literature was somewhat of a hobby. The thought that Hawthorne sat at that desk, perhaps even in the Berkshires, and wrote a few of his novels…that makes me giddy.
Q: What’s the best part of living in Pittsfield so far?
I am still getting to know Pittsfield, but with the caveat of “so far,” I would have to say the energy, diversity, cultural activities, and particularly the people. So many have been so warm and welcoming, at the Museum and beyond. I am joining the Downtown Pittsfield board and that will help me learn more, but there is a strong cultural energy that is reverberating and the sense of community is contagious. Just in Pittsfield, we have Downtown Pittsfield, Barrington Stage Company, Hancock Shaker Village, Cultural Pittsfield, Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Theater Group, Berkshire Music School, Berkshire Athenaeum, Albany Berkshire Ballet, and more. They are all doing quality, interesting work that enhances the quality of life in Pittsfield, and it’s going to be fun to get to know all of these organizations and the broader community more.
Q: Have you read any good books lately?
I am reading a novel entitled There There by Tommy Orange. Although only about ankle deep, I get the sense that it will be a bit apropos to my new job and life. It’s a bit of an exploration of memory, purpose, and future, and how that relates to our personal and collective journeys. Let’s see. But it’s definitely a good read. (Copy bought from The Bookstore in Lenox, not in Pittsfield, but a favorite find of the area! Support small book shops!)