June 16, 2006
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum Introductory Gallery opens with CW Masterworks
A portion of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum will re-open to Colonial Williamsburg guests at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 1. Selected objects from the permanent exhibition, Masterworks from the Colonial Williamsburg Collection, will be on display in the introductory gallery while major renovation work continues in the building’s other exhibition areas through the end of the year.
The selected objects are arranged in chronological order and have been chosen for their artistic merit, their historical significance, and their excellent state of preservation. The Masterworks exhibit presents some of the most important objects in the Colonial Williamsburg collection. The result of nearly 80 years of active collecting of British and American fine and decorative arts, these antiques and artworks were initially acquired as furnishings for the houses and shops in the Historic Area. As the collection grew, it became recognized as a remarkable record of material achievement in 18th-century Britain and her American colonies. Covering a full social spectrum, the collection today includes everything from the humblest milking stool to the grandest carved and gilded furniture— more than 60,000 objects in all.
The Publick Hospital exhibition, housed in the reconstructed 1773 hospital for the mentally ill, and the Museum Shop, adjacent to the Masterworks exhibit, also will re-open at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum – named for the founder of Reader’s Digest and a principal benefactor of Colonial Williamsburg – closed March 6 to begin replacement of the fire safety system to protect some of America’s premier collections of 18th-century material culture that have been exhibited in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum since its 1985 opening.
During the museum closure, the staff has been preparing for the re-opening of the museum and the new Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum at year’s end as The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. The new Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum will boast 11 new exhibits in museum space totaling more than 9,300 square feet. The renovated DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum will re-open with eight exhibits in nearly 7,800 square feet in addition to the Publick Hospital exhibit.