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October 31, 2006

DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum closes temporarily to prepare for major re-opening in mid-December

Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum will close temporarily at 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29 and remain closed until Saturday, Dec. 16. While the Public Hospital exhibits will remain open to the public, closure of the Wallace Museum will allow removal of the temporary Masterworks exhibit and re-installation of the full, permanent Masterworks exhibition prior to re-opening.

Three new exhibitions will debut when the Wallace Museum re-opens in December, including a stunning new introduction to The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg – the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. The new introductory exhibit will feature an exciting variety of objects from both world-renowned collections of Colonial Williamsburg.

“Pounds, Pence and Pistareens: Coins and Currency in Colonial America” picks the pockets and wallets of our colonial ancestors. The new exhibition allows guests to discover what sort of money was in use prior to the American Revolution, including coins – mostly foreign and bearing images that range from wild hogs to pine trees to elephants – and paper money in various shapes, denominations and colors. The exhibition, while illuminating the world of pistareens, farthings, pieces of eight and gold doubloons, highlights the generosity of Joseph R. and Ruth P. Lasser of New York, who have amassed a collection of several thousand pieces, most of which are now in the collections of Colonial Williamsburg, and seen here for the first time.

“Canisters, Caddies and Chests: Fashionable Tea Containers of the 18th Century” highlights the style and design of these useful and fashionable participants in the tea ritual. By the early 18th century, tea was a social event carried out in many households. Teapots, teacups, sugar bowls and caddies were all necessary for serving proper tea and containers made of silver or wood came in a variety of fashionable designs.

In addition to the returning Masterworks exhibit, four other exhibitions – on view when the majority of the Wallace Museum closed earlier this year for replacement of the fire safety systems – will return for Colonial Williamsburg museum guests.

“Lock, Stock & Barrel: Early Firearms from the Colonial Williamsburg Collection” displays military and civilian firearms including muzzle-loading, ignition systems, and the evolution of the standard British infantry musket pre-1800. Firearms were part of everyday life for 18th-century Virginians and the exhibition features guns from the late seventeenth through the eighteenth century.

“Artistry & Ingenuity” features an array of cooking equipment found in 18th-century kitchens. Artisans, concerned with function and appearance, took time to create implements pleasing to the eye, but still useful to the cook.

“Revolution in Taste” displays hundreds of ceramic and metal objects available to consumers in the 18th century. The exhibition covers the variety of wares manufactured in the period that offered colonists a wide range of goods associated with dining, drinking, and decoration.

“The Murray Sisters: A Closer Look” reveals the steps taken to conserve a late 18th-century double portrait by French artist Bouché. The portrait of two Maryland sisters arrived in the collection in need of care. Dirt obscured the original colors and details and small tears in the canvas endangered the painting. Conservators spent hundreds of hours photographing, x-raying, cleaning and repairing the canvas so that today it appears as the artist intended.

The Wallace Museum, originally opened in 1985, features 27,500 square feet of exhibition space as well as an auditorium, and a café.

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum remains under construction in its new quarters, co-located with the Wallace Museum. It is scheduled to re-open in its new facility Saturday, February 3, 2007.

Entrance to The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg is through the Public Hospital of 1773 on Francis St. between Nassau and South Henry Streets.

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. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281