Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden kicks off a season of unique and immersive programming


The Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden in North Salem is expanding its programming this year in an effort to be a restorative "third place" for locals. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

The Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden held a welcome celebration last Saturday at its facility on Deveau Road in North Salem. The event was hailed as an opportunity to welcome back locals for a diverse and exciting three seasons of garden strolls, art exhibitions, cultural programs, tea ceremonies, workshops, tai chi and meditation sessions.

“We were so thrilled at the tremendous turnout,” said Alisa Sakai, vice chair of the Hammond Museum. “Everyone was just so excited to come out and enjoy the garden.”

Sakai said about 300 people attended the event, enjoying live music from North Salem town council member Martin Aronchick and Bert Rechtschaffer, art exhibits and an Earth Day garden tour. “We just really thought it was a wonderful celebration coming out from the cold winter,” Sakai said.

About 300 people attended the Hammond's welcome celebration on Saturday, April 23. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

Last weekend’s celebration was just the start of what promises to be a jam-packed season of new events and unique programming from the Hammond. The museum, which is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 4:00 p.m., aspires to be a “third place,” according to Sakai.

“Before it used to be the home and the civic location–either school or your place of worship. This is that third sector,” Sakai said of the Hammond Museum. “That’s what we really need to have; a place of replenishment.”

The Hammond Museum hosts traditional Japanese tea ceremonies throughout the year. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

The Hammond intends to provide that replenishment through a variety of activities, including gardening, tea ceremonies, meditation, writing, crafts, yoga, music, painting, and more.

“We have quite a few initiatives happening as a result of people needing more mental space, more grace in their lives for creative, contemplative work,” Sakai said. To that end, the Hammond will begin hosting writer’s workshops beginning in late May. Every Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., writers can spend four hours of dedicated quiet time in the Hammond garden. On days when the weather is not cooperative, an indoor writer’s room will be available.

Beginning Friday, May 6 and every other Friday through June, volunteers will be welcome to the garden to assist with maintaining the Japanese Stroll Garden. “We have so many people who love getting their hands in the dirt,” Sakai said.

On July 30, the museum will host a sound healing event led by sound healer Ed Cleveland, and featuring gongs and singing bells. The event will draw inspiration from a Tibetan tradition that dates back 18,000 years. Cleveland will deliver a 30-minute talk followed by an immersive meditation session. Sakai anticipates that the event will draw a large crowd. 

On July 30, the Hammond will host a sound healing event led by sound healer Ed Cleveland. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

On September 10, the museum will host koto players and Japanese musicians for a Harvest Moon celebration.

Sakai said that this year the museum is focused on bringing back its educational programming, with a specific aim to engage children 12 and up. 

Other programming in the works include soul painting for children and adults, a Japanese flower arranging, or Ikebana, workshop, weekly tai chi, and writing workshops with varying themes.

Children play at the Hammond Museum's welcome celebration on Saturday, April 23. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

“We are focusing a lot on education, diversity, equity and inclusion,” Sakai said. “The more variety of voices that we can bring in, we will do. We just want people out of their houses, and to take a step away from their day-to-day existence.”

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