A Promising Venture - Shaker Photographs from the WPA.
Sat, May. 26 '12 - Tue, Dec. 31 '13
Hancock Shaker Village, 1843, W Housatonic St, Pittsfield MA 01201, regular hours.
As part of the "New Deal" response to the Great Depression of the 1930's, the federal government established the WPA (Works Progress Administration). In addition to infrastructure improvements performed by the CCC, the WPA oversaw the Federal Art Project, commissioning public works of art such as murals, easel paintings and sculptures. Seizing the opportunity to celebrate truly American art forms, the Federal Art Project also set out to catalog American design, dispatching watercolorists, easel artists, and photographers throughout the country to create portfolios for the Index of American Design. An early priority of the Index was the cataloging of Shaker furniture, architecture, and craft. Photographer Noel Vicentini visited Watervliet and Mount Lebanon, NY, as well as Hancock, MA. His work at all three sites was facilitated by seminal Shaker collectors, Faith and Edward Andrews. The whole collection of Vicentini's photographs are housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The vast majority of his work at Shaker sites will be shown at Hancock Shaker Village in 2012 and 2013, more than 75 years after he helped to endear the Shaker aesthetic in the minds of American citizens.
A Child's World -Childhood in 19th Century New England, 1800-1850.
Mon, Nov. 5 '12 - Mon, May. 27 '13
Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Rd, Sturbridge MA 01566.
(Sturbridge, Mass.) Sept. 21, 2012: Old Sturbridge Village historians will explore the changing world of children in the early 1800s with a new exhibit, A Child's World: Childhood in 19th-Century New England, on display October 13 through Memorial Day, May 27, 2013. For the first time, nearly 150 rare children's toys, games, puzzles, portraits, clothing, and furniture from the museum's collection will be exhibited together.
The Village will highlight the new exhibit with a day-long Collectors' Forum on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., featuring noted scholars, connoisseurs, collectors and enthusiasts. Forum attendees receive museum admission and may also tour the new exhibit. The Old Sturbridge Village Forum is open to the public; cost is $80 per person; $65 for OSV members. For details and to register: www.osv.org/antiques, 800-SEE-1830.
OSV Collectors' Forum speakers will include Colleen Callahan, Independent Historian: Put the Manly Breeches On: Boys' Clothing as Symbols of Manhood in the 19th Century; Laura E. Johnson, PhD., Associate Curator at Historic New England: From Stays to Skeleton Suits: Dressing Children in Early America; Chris Bates, Old Sturbridge Village Costume Coordinator: Making A Portrait Come Alive: Creating Reproduction Clothing at Old Sturbridge Village, presented with Rebecca Beall, Old Sturbridge Village Collections Manager, and Jean Contino, Old Sturbridge Village Coordinator of Households and Women's Crafts.
A Child's World: Childhood in 19th-Century New England
In an age before super-sized toy stores, pampered children, and helicopter parents, a new concept of a child's formative years began to emerge in 19th-century New England. There was an increasing awareness that "childhood" was an important time, separate from infancy, yet distinctly different from young adulthood and maturity.
"We have spent a full year selecting the very best child-related artifacts from our collection of more than 60,000 items to portray the life of a child in the early 19th-century," notes Rebecca Beall, collections manager at Old Sturbridge Village. "Many of these antiques have not been on public display for more than 20 years."
Highlights of the "Child's World" exhibit include antique dolls, dollhouse, cradles, toy soldiers, children's wagons, wheelbarrows, sleds, miniature chests, chairs, rocking horses, building blocks, and board games. A wide selection of children's clothing fashions are also part of the exhibit, including dainty dresses and a rare boy's 1820 "Skeleton Suit" – a close-fitting, high-waisted outfit often seen in paintings of the era.
According to Old Sturbridge Village historians, most rural New England children had far fewer toys than a modern child. Most, if not all, of these toys would have been homemade – carved animals, board games scratched into a scrap of wood, roughly carved toy houses, and "rag baby" dolls made from bits of left over fabric.
"Today, children are bombarded with bright plastic toys with bells, whistles, sirens and flashing lights. Children of the 19th century had much simpler toys," Beall says. "A store-bought toy would have been a treasured plaything for most rural New England children."
Families were larger in early New England – with five to six children the average and families of nine or ten children not unusual. New England couples typically married in their early to mid-20s, and might expect to have a pregnancy approximately every two years over a long span of time. Children in 19th-century families often ranged in age from infants to young adults.
With no ultrasounds and no prenatal or postnatal care, infant mortality in the 1800s was high and mothers also faced serious complications during pregnancy, childbirth and recovery that could prove fatal. As a consequence, the months before a child's birth were a time of excitement and anticipation as well as uncertainty and anxiety.
Then, as now, special equipment was needed to care for babies and keep them safe in the home. Nineteenth-century highchairs, “potty chairs,” chamber pots, and child tenders (a precursor to the playpen) demonstrate that there were some specialized “gear” designed then for babies and toddlers, but it was nothing like the variety of sophisticated equipment available to families today.
Running a rural 19th-century household was a lot of work, and children were expected to do their share. Young girls and boys were expected to help around the house – cleaning, doing kitchen chores, and tending the household garden. Tasks typically handled by children in early New England included gathering eggs and firewood, hauling water, weeding the garden, gathering berries, picking apples, mucking out stalls, and emptying chamber pots.
Girls and boys were taught to sew and knit, which was a good way for children to develop their fine motor skills. In the kitchen, children would help out by churning butter, pounding sugar, sifting flour, and stoning raisins (removing the seeds). Boys as young as 9 or 10 were taught to "drive" a team of oxen, directing them to pull, haul, and plow on the farm by using a series of hand signals and voice commands. Children would also pluck chickens, and feed the pigs and other farm animals.
One of the most important chores for children in the larger families of the 19th century was watching their younger siblings. Since many mothers had their children over a 20-year span, there was often an infant at home when the family's oldest child was entering adulthood.
Old Sturbridge Village, one of the country's oldest and largest living history museums, celebrates New England life in the 1830s and is open from 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. seven days a week. Admission: adults $24; seniors $22; children 3-17, $8; children 2 and under, free. All programs are subject to change. Each admission includes free parking and a free second-day visit within 10 days. Woo Card subscribers get $5 off adult daytime admission; college Woo cardholders receive $12 off adult daytime admission. For times and details of all OSV activities visit: www.osv.org or call 1-800-SEE-1830.
Changing Keys: Keyboard Instruments for America, 1700–1830.
Thu, Nov. 22 '12 - Fri, Nov. 7 '14
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, 326 W Francis St, Williamsburg VA 23185, included with single day admission price.
Explore the evolution of spinets, harpsichords, and pianos in the 18th century in this exhibition of more than 25 instruments. Examine the differences in the various types of keyboards as well as the evolution of the instrument over time.
Keyboard instruments were an integral part of the cultural milieu of Virginia’s colonial and post-colonial period. The second known public performance on a piano in America took place at the Raleigh Tavern.
Featured instruments, ranging in date from 1700 to 1830, are drawn from Colonial Williamsburg’s significant collection of English keyboards. Many have never been exhibited before. Two reproductions are included so that they can be played for visitors. Models of detailed aspects of the keyboard allow visitors further insight into the workings of the instruments.
Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, 224 Benefit St, Providence RI 02903, Tuesday-Wednesday 10-5, Thursday 10-9, Friday-Sunday 10-5, admission $12 seniors $10 children 5-18 $3, college students $5.
Elaborate festivals transformed European cities from the 16th to 18th centuries. Occasions such as coronations and royal visits, civic and religious processions, and carnival races used public spaces as an interactive backdrop on a scale rarely seen today — replete with dazzling ephemeral architecture and decorations (giving artists and artisans a steady supply of work), impressive firework displays, musical and theatrical interludes, and free food and drink. The Festive City brings together rarely seen festival prints and books, among our only traces of these staggeringly expensive but fleeting events.
Drawn from the collections of the RISD Museum, the John Hay Library at Brown University, and local collector Vincent J. Buonanno, these works are among the most impressive feats of printmaking in the early-modern period, with multi-plate, fold-out pages documenting processions and huge crowds, dramatic firework scenes, and more.
Macculloch Hall Historical Museum exhibits some of its most popular pieces as well as many seldom-seen treasures which have been in storage. This is a special opportunity to see rarely-exhibited treasures from the collection in the gallery and tour the rest of the museum to see many other pieces in period room settings. During touring hours in the main gallery, regular admission applies; members free.
Artist and Visionary: William Matthew Prior Revealed.
Thu, Jan. 24 - Sun, May. 26
American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square, Columbus Ave at 66th St, New York NY 10023, regular hours and admission.
Organized by the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, this exhibition includes more than 40 oil paintings spanning William Matthew Prior’s career from 1824 to 1856. Through his pragmatic marketing strategy, Prior was able to document the faces of middle-class Americans throughout his lifetime, making art accessible to a previously overlooked group.
A versatile artist, Prior is well known not only for the skill and range of his technique but for the diversity of his sitters. Prior’s involvement with Millerism (early Adventism) was instrumental in his personal development as well as providing access to new clients, including many African Americans.
Pottsgrove Manor, 100 W King St, Pottstown PA 19464, Saturday 1pm, suggested donation $2.
Many members of the Potts family were involved in the American Revolution, including Samuel Potts, who grew up at Pottsgrove Manor. He and his brother-in-law Thomas Rutter III cast cannon for the American cause at Warwick Furnace. In this program, reenactors portraying artillery men and blacksmiths of the Continental Army will show how important the local ironworking industry was to the war effort.
New Eyes on American: The Genius of Richard Caton Woodville.
Sun, Mar. 10 - Sun, Jun. 2
The Walters Art Museum, 600 N Charles St, Baltimore MD 21201, Wednesday-Sunday 10-5.
Painter of iconic works of American genre, Richard Caton Woodville (1825–55) led a life of paradox. His humorous characterizations of life, realistic depictions of interiors and use of narrative detail give access to a fascinating period of American and European history.
Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, 9 Main St, Madison NJ 07940, Tuesday-Saturday 10-4, Sunday 12-5, closed Sunday in July and August, regular admission is charged.
While the Puritans may have influenced our work ethic, the Southerners influenced our play ethic. Since the Colonial period, Americans have long enjoyed playing games, within moderation of course. The Sabbath had to be kept, excessive gambling was a sign of bad character, and chores came before play. Yet children still managed to play. Card and dice games flourished and taverns saw gaming on an unprecedented level. While still frowned upon these games were more acceptable for grown men to play. As American manufacturing developed games that were deemed socially acceptable to play on the Sabbath and developed a market for family games, we see the emergence of board games for both children and adults. The late nineteenth century was the beginning of what would be a booming American board game industry based on European and South East Asian games.
Painters and Paintings in the Early American South.
Sat, Mar. 23 - Sat, Sep. 7
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, 326 W Francis St, Williamsburg VA 23185, included with single day admission price.
This ground breaking exhibition brings together more than 80 significant paintings drawn from Colonial Williamsburg’s collection and those of major institutions across the United States to explore the rich history of art in the early South. The exhibition explores the stylistic trends of the period, comments on the lives of the sitters as the pursuit of gentility spread from the richest southerners to the middle class, and discusses the varying status and training of the painters. The story reveals the web of relationships connecting sitters, friends and relations, clients and artists, and other agents. The paintings represent work by a host of artists including Jeremiah Theus, Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, and Henry Benbridge. Painters and Paintings in the Early American South opens March 23, 2013, and is accompanied by Juli Grainger curator Carolyn J. Weekley’s new book of the same title. Both were made possible by a generous gift from Juli and David Grainger and The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Illinois.
Hoecakes & Hospitality: Cooking with Martha Washington.
Mon, Mar. 25 - Sun, Aug. 11
Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon VA 22309, Saturday and Sunday 9-5, included with regular admission.
George and Martha Washington welcomed thousands of guests to Mount Vernon in the more than forty years they lived here. How did Martha manage to feed so many in a world without refrigerators, microwaves or running water?
Experience a behind-the-scenes look at the Washingtons’ kitchen through the new exhibition, Hoecakes & Hospitality: Cooking with Martha Washington. On display inside the Donald W. Reynolds Museum, this temporary exhibition explores how foods were prepared and presented at 18th-century Mount Vernon. Before appearing in dining rooms, crispy hoecakes, smokes hams, frozen ice creams, and other foods required the work of gardeners, housekeepers, enslaves cooks, butlers and waiters – all under Martha Washington’s careful supervision.
Following food from the Estate’s field to kitchen to table, visitors will see recipes and cookbooks that Martha treasured, pots that simmered in her kitchen, and fine tablewares that made Mount Vernon’s dining room fit for a president. For the first time ever, visitors to the Museum will experience scents as they explore the exhibition - smelling cinnamon, coffee, and warm bread. Open through August 11, 2013.
Entrance to the Donald W. Reynolds Museum is included in regular Estate admission.
Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color.
Fri, Apr. 12 - Sun, Jul. 28
1st Floor, Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington DC 20006, daily 10-5:30, admission free.
Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color fully examines the extraordinary career of Thomas Day (1801–about 1861), a free African American who owned and operated one of North Carolina’s most successful cabinet shops prior to the Civil War. The late Patricia Phillips Marshall, who organized the exhibition and was curator of decorative arts for the North Carolina Executive Mansion and the North Carolina Museum of History, has called Day one of the fathers of the North Carolina furniture industry. Day’s style is characterized by undulating shapes, fluid lines, and spiraling forms. He combined his own unique motifs with popular designs to create a distinctive style readily identified with his shop. Beginning in the 1820s, Day produced fine furniture for prominent white citizens, and was noted for both designing interior spaces and the furnishings. His surviving furniture and architectural woodwork still represent the finest of nineteenth-century craftsmanship and aesthetics.
The exhibition presents a remarkable range of items produced in Day’s shop from 1830 to 1860. The exhibition showcases thirty-six pieces of furniture crafted by this accomplished artisan and entrepreneur. A majority of the loans are from the North Carolina Museum of History, which has the largest collection of furniture made by Thomas Day. His architectural work will be featured in photographs in the installation. In addition, the exhibition explores the story of a successful man who flourished as a cabinetmaker during a time when most blacks were enslaved and free blacks were restricted in their movements and activities.
Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color is based on an exhibition organized by the North Carolina Museum of History; the Renwick Gallery is the only additional venue. Robyn Kennedy, chief of the Renwick Gallery, is coordinating the exhibition in Washington, D.C.
Common Destinations: Maps in the American Experience.
Sat, Apr. 20 '13 - Sun, Jan. 5 '14
Winterthur, 5105 Kennet Pike, Winterthur DE 19735, Monday-Sunday 10-5, included with regular admission.
Today maps are known primarily as tools to help us reach our destination, but in the 18th and 19th centuries they were key to the American experience and became the social glue that bound a young nation into a community.
This exhibition takes you on a journey through the centuries that included the colonial wars, the American Revolution, and decades of nation building. During that time, maps evolved to become part of everyday life and material culture, changing from rare collectibles to ubiquitous objects.
Common Destinations features selections from Winterthur's fascinating collection of traditional maps on paper as well as map-related objects, such as ceramics, geographic playing cards, and printed handkerchiefs.
The story of maps in the American experience is told through six themes:
Sociable Maps: Parlors and Pubs—Maps became popular conversation pieces with which Americans debated current affairs or explored their knowledge of the world. Whether in homes, taverns, or coffee house, maps were the perfect medium for conversations, games, and exchanging news and information.
Indoors/Outdoors: Men and Their Maps—Maps played a crucial role in the political and commercial activities as well as the personal lives of American men. They shaped reading and writing activities and were part of everyday outdoor activities, including traveling and land-surveying. At a time when social status was predicated on land ownership or commerce, maps were both tools and status symbols for American men.
Maps in a Woman’s World—Maps were important to American women’s lives in many ways. They served as a teaching tool for home-schooled children; they provided needlework and embroidery themes for interior decoration; they were fashionable accessories when used as handkerchiefs and fans; and they became a source of entertainment for both women and children.
Before the Revolution: Science, Pictures, and Baroque Maps—In the 18th century, the aesthetics of maps became just as important as the accuracies of the geography. Designs were borrowed from baroque furniture, emblem books, and even theater sets.
The National Map: 1784–1815—Building a sense of community among a young nation that spent decades with political uncertainty was one of the biggest contributions of maps after the Revolutionary War. They were no longer imported from abroad but were replaced with first-generation domestic maps that illustrated national unity and became part of the school curriculum to help build a new society.
Maps and Masses: Cartography in the Industrial Age—The application of machine-made paper and lithography during the 1830s made maps a highly diversified commodity as they were tailored to meet the needs of national and international audiences. With mass production, map ownership became almost universal and for the first time, entered window displays in shopping districts and became a staple at national and international fairs.
The Windsor Institute, 44 Timber Swamp Rd, Hampton NH 03842, Monday-Friday 8:30-5:30, fee $800, advanced class, sack back is a prerequisite, registration required.
We conduct five-day classes 2-3 times a month, year round. This large number of classes allows a student to choose a time that fits his or her schedule. The men and women who have taken our classes have ranged from 13 to 82 years old and include every skill level from rank novice to the very experienced.
Each student begins by taking the introductory sack back class which is held many times throughout the year. This class focuses on the chairmaking principles that are common to all Windsors. Seven advanced classes are held during the year (some only once). When taking one of these students can make the continuous arm, a side chair, a settee, a writing arm, a child’s chair, a rocker, or a large fan back. These advanced classes concentrate on advanced techniques. The basic principals are not repeated, and so our advanced classes are only open to people who have taken sack back with us.