BENNINGTON -- Kicking off the inauguration of Bennington College President Mariko Silver Friday was the announcement of a new partnership between the college and Bennington Museum.

The announcement was made at a cocktail reception Friday for the opening of its Modernism exhibit in cooperation with Bennington College.

Rep. Brian Campion, D-Bennington, said in addition to the new exhibit, the museum will start displaying some student work and bring in student curators to work on exhibits.

"The atmosphere at this small college and the natural beauty that surrounds it has helped alter the artistic landscape in the United States and the world forever," Campion said. "These artists and the institution that brought them here are being celebrated tonight in yet another remarkable institution: The Bennington Museum."

The executive director of the museum, Dr. Robert Wolterstorff, said the gallery will display Modernist artists from the Berkshires, and celebrates "a high point in history of creation, innovation and indeed of imagination in Vermont. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it recognizes a moment when Vermont truly led the nation in the visual arts," he said.

Wolterstorff said no other museum in Vermont has recognized the modernism movement. "We are doing that now," he said. "In part because it's great art; it's inspiring art, but also because it's a defining element in the history of this region. It happened right in our back yard."

Silver announced the opening of the north gate of the college, which plans to add small parking lot and kiosk to list college events.

"We are going to create a number of ways to reach out to let all of you know of all of the wonderful things to which you are invited," Silver said. "It's a moment of partnership between the college and the museum, and it's a moment of partnership between the college and the community. This community created Bennington College."

Berkshire Bank was the primary sponsor of the reception.

Silver's inauguration will take place Saturday, April 26, at 10:30 a.m. in the college's Greenwall Auditorium.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com or @TomMomberg