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April 6, 2010

Bassett Hall, the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg offer complimentary admission on Saturday, April 17

Tour Bassett Hall and the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg free on Saturday, April 17 in celebration of museum milestone anniversaries.

Complimentary admission enables guests to explore the gardens at Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr. During the restoration in 2003, the gardens were restored to their 1940s appearance. Hundreds of new boxwoods, dozens of fruit and shade trees, and thousands of bulbs were part of the 14-acre project. Since the Rockefellers visited Williamsburg in April and October, the garden was designed to be in bloom in spring and fall.

Bassett Hall guests also can tour the house and visit outbuildings that include a teahouse, smokehouse, kitchen and dairy.

This historic home was given to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 1979 by the Rockefeller family and opened to the public in 1980. Bassett Hall underwent an extensive restoration and re-interpretation in 2002-2003 that was funded by a generous gift of $2.7 million from Abby O’Neill, granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller Jr., and her husband George.

Bassett Hall and its gardens are located at 522 E. Francis St. and will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 17.

Guests can enjoy free admission to the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg during Saturday, July 10, Saturday, Oct. 2, Sunday, Oct. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 11.

The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2010. The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg can be toured from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 17.

Families can enjoy a special program, The Toymaker’s Workshop at 3, 4 and 5 p.m. Experience one of the oldest forms of moving picture entertainment, a shadow puppet play. The Victorian Shadowlight Theater will present a program brought to life with a storyteller, shadow puppeteers and live sound effects. After the show, visit with the cast to learn more about shadow puppetry and historical entertainments.

Enjoy exhibitions at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum including Pottery With a Past: Stoneware in Early America, a display of the wide array of drinking, dining and storage vessels made in England, Germany and early America, and Declarations of Independence, a display of copies of the declaration by five printer engravers for the 50th anniversary of the document in 1826.

At the adjacent Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, guests can tour the museums’ newest exhibition, Steve Harley: An Original Life, which reflects the American image of rugged individualism as expressed through Harley’s entire body of work — five extraordinary oil paintings, several pencil drawings, a sketchbook and photographs.

The award-winning DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum houses the Foundation’s renowned collection of British and American fine and decorative arts dating from 1600 through 1830. Featured in regularly changing exhibitions, these include the world’s largest collection of Southern furniture; nationally important holdings in English silver and pewter; a vast collection of 18th-century clothing and textiles; and one of the largest collections of British ceramics outside England.

The award-winning Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum—the oldest institution in the United States dedicated solely to the collection and preservation of American folk art—features paintings, drawings, furniture, ceramics, whirligigs, weather vanes, carvings, toys, quilts, musical instruments and other folk works representing many diverse cultural traditions and geographic regions.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are located at 326 W. Francis St. in Williamsburg, Va., and are entered through the Public Hospital of 1773.

Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.
For museum program information, telephone (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.

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