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November 25, 2008

Folk Art Christmas tree lights up Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum

When the Abby Aldrich Folk Art Museum (AARFAM) reopened in 2007, a holiday tradition returned—the Folk Art Christmas tree. The tradition continues in 2008 with the placement of a 16-foot tree in the museum central court that is surrounded by glittering silver and gold stars.

The collective effort to create folk art ornaments for the Christmas tree display has become an exciting and popular holiday activity over the years. Employees and their families and friends join together every year to add to the ever-expanding collection of homemade Christmas tree decorations. Many of the ornaments are reminiscent of pieces of art in the museum’s collection.

Ornaments new to the tree this year are:

  • Sign ornaments from the Sign of the Rhinoceros, a shop in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area;
  • Folk artist Eddi Arning birds;
  • Tin trees;
  • Folk artist Mattie Lou O’Kelley snowmen; and
  • Three-dimensional stars constructed from Christmas cards.

    In addition, Colonial Williamsburg apprentice carpenter Steve Chabra, who also is a blacksmith, fashioned 10 ornaments of Angel Gabriel, 30 stars and a tree topper – AARFAM’s signature rooster – out of iron.

    Family programs offered this year allowed guests to make ornaments based on objects in the collections to take home or donate to the museum tree. Guests are welcome to attend ornament-making workshops that continue through the holiday season.

    The traditional Christmas tree display began with the opening of the original folk art museum in 1957. Initially, tree ornaments were made by museum employees as an opportunity to instill a sense of community during the holiday season. Ornaments were created in the folk art style from everyday materials.

    Explore the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the art that provided the inspiration for these treasured ornaments. The museum Christmas tree will be on view through Jan. 1, 2009.

    The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Entrance to the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg is through the Public Hospital of 1773 located on 326 W. Francis St. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Dec. 31 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 1- March 16, 2009. For information and reservations call (757) 220-7724.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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