at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
From Forge and Furnace:
A Celebration of Early American Iron
Can iron and art be used in the same sentence? Absolutely! This hard, often black or gray, metal was used to make everything from stoves and hinges to andirons and weathervanes. As with most folk art, though, the makers of these utilitarian pieces chose to embellish their work to make them interesting and attractive although no more functional than if they left them unadorned. A stove could still heat a room whether it was a simple iron box or iron cast into a statue of George Washington. This exhibition highlights these decorative, yet useful, objects made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Iron mining and iron production were established in the colonies almost as soon as settlers arrived. By the American Revolution, Virginia had several furnaces providing the iron that was made into firebacks, stoveplates and a myriad of household items like ladles, toasters, trivets and tammels.
Opening Nov. 24, 2016 in the Peebles Gallery
Folk Art Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree is an annual tradition at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. Since 1959, the museum staff and volunteers have decorated the tree with handmade ornaments that reflect the rich collections of our Folk art Museum. Each ornament was made specifically for the tree and inspired by a favorite object. Many of the ornaments were made by our staff and Williamsburg residents. Over the years, visitors have added their own art to the tree as well. Today the 16-foot tree features over 2000 ornaments made from cloth, wood, tin, paper and recycled materials. Hundreds of tiny white lights add to the magic of this decorated tree that sits in the skylit Penny Court below a "ceiling" of hanging gold and silver stars.
Nov. 15, 2016 - Jan. 2, 2017
November 15th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. guests can watch as the tree is decorated
The World Made Small
Dollhouses are some of the most popular miniature versions of the real world. On view in the Wilkinson Gallery is a museum favorite — the enormous Long island Dollhouse made around 1900 and fully furnished. The earliest dollhouse in the exhibit was made in 1820 for twin girls. Other houses include a house made in the Chesapeake around 1835 and a colonial revival house made around 1940. While young girls played house, what about the young boys? Wonderful German-made playsets from the 19th century will be featured including a fort, a soldiers' campsite and a farm.
Through February 2018 in the Rachel Elisabeth and Joshua Ryan Wilkinson Gallery
A Carolina Christmas
Enjoy a glimpse of Christmas past with a visit to the holiday exhibit A Carolina Christmas. The original 1830s parlor of a North Carolina home once owned by the Shaws will be furnished to reflect a 19th-century Christmas evening. A decoratively painted rocking chair will be nestled by the glowing fire while a grain-painted tall clock in the corner will note the late hour. In the center of the room, a decorated tree lit by candles will sit atop a table. Throughout the room, 19th -century toys including dolls, a train, soldiers and more will occupy space on the floor and settee. And of course the stockings will be hung with care on the mantel. Not to be missed while at the museum will be the 16-foot-tall lit tree that fills the two-story Penny Court. The annual Folk Art tree has been delighting guests for over 50 years. The tree will be decorated with over 1500 handmade ornaments based on folk art in the museum's collection.
Opening Nov. 24, 2016 in the Lucke Gallery
Color and Shape: The Art of the American Theorem
In the early years of the 19th century, theorem painting was a popular activity in both the school and home. Young girls were taught to use stencils to create colorful still life pictures, usually painted on fabric. Ladies’ magazines of the period also gave instruction to those wanting to try the technique at home. This exhibition in the Guyton Gallery, features 11 paintings, exploring how the theorems were made and how individual artists, using very similar stencils, created their own take on the subject. Today many of the theorems survive without the name of the maker, but four pieces in the exhibition are signed, providing the opportunity to take a closer look at the diverse backgrounds of the artists.
Through January 2018.
German Toys in America
This exhibition will feature a colorful variety of 19th-century German wooden toys from dolls and soldiers to arks and animals. During the period, around two thirds of the toys in American shops came from Germany. Known as The Toy Workshop of the World and The Land of Toys, Germany dominated the toy market for most of the 19th-century. American toy sellers ordered their merchandise through illustrated catalogs or sent agents to Germany who personally selected the best stock with which they filled their shelves. Children played house with dolls, waged battles with soldiers, reenacted the great flood with an ark full of animals, created towns, and managed their own zoos.
A Century of African-American Quilts
This exhibit showcases twelve colorful and stunning quilts, half of which have never before been seen by the public, spanning more than a century after 1875. The quilts of African Americans varied widely, depending on the date, location or community, the purpose for which the quilt was made, and the personal artistic vision of the quilt maker. The bold designs and brilliant colors of the quilts speak to a longstanding cultural and artistic tradition within which the women designed and created their quilts. Although none of the quilts were made during the era of slavery in America, several of the quilters represented were born into slavery and others descended from enslaved families. Each quilt maker used the humble materials of fabric and thread to create a bedcover that was warm and practical as well as brilliant in color and artistry. This exhibition was made possible thanks to gifts from Cindy and Sheldon Stone of Los Angeles, California, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation c/o Cynthia and Robert Milligan of Lincoln, Nebraska.
Through May, 2018, in the Foster and Muriel McCarl Gallery
American Ship Paintings
This exhibition of 5 paintings from the Folk Art collection highlights the popularity of ship portraits. In the mid-19th century, ship captains and owners commissioned artists to depict their sea-going vessels in all their glory. Included in the exhibit are 3 large paintings by James Bard, one of which depicts the schooner yacht America, the first winner of the trophy now known as the America's cup. Steamboats plied the rivers of 19th-century America and are represented in the exhibit in two paintings, one of which is over 6 feet long, giving an impressive, detailed view of the side-wheeler. Each portrait depicts a specific ship with a story to tell.
Sidewalks to Rooftops: Outdoor Folk Art
This exhibit in the Leslie Anne Miller and Richard B. Worley Gallery examines signboards, storefront figures, weather vanes, marine carvings, whirligigs, carousel animals, and other pieces originally intended for use outdoors. These 19th- and 20th-century works survived the elements and bear witness to the creative spirit that once enlivened the American landscape.
This exhibition was made possible by a gift from Barry M. Boone in loving memory of his wife, Linda.
Down on the Farm
This popular exhibition in the Penelope P. and Dr. Sergio V. Proserpi Gallery follows the story of Prince, a carved wooden dog, as he explores the countryside and meets up with animals in paintings, sculptures, and toys. Read rhyming text that tells of his adventures as he encounters weather vane roosters, carved ducks, and wooden horses.
Conserving the Carolina Room
This exhibition in the Rex and Pat Lucke Gallery highlights the current research on and conservation of an 1836 painted room acquired by the museum in the 1950s. Each board, wainscot and door has been investigated and treated to bring it closer to the original appearance.
The conservation of the Carolina Room was made possible by Mr. and Mrs. Rex A. Lucke of Elkhorn, Nebraska, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional conservation support is provided by the Mildred and J.B. Hickman Conservation Endowment and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowed Conservation Fund.
Cross Rhythms: Folk Musical Instruments
This exhibition in the Elizabeth M. and Joseph M. Handley Gallery features banjos, fiddles, and dulcimers from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Highlights include a piano built into a chest of drawers and a record-playing hippocerous.