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October 2, 2007

CW's 60th Annual Antiques Forum explores regional diversity in Early American decorative arts

Curators, collectors and historians share their latest discoveries with participants Feb. 3 - 7, 2008 during the 60th annual Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum, “From North to South: Regional Diversity in American Decorative Arts.”

More than 20 experts present illustrated lectures and video-assisted workshops as they survey the rich and varied heritage that early American artisans produced in distinct regional styles before 1830. Just as chairs made in 18th-century Boston were surprisingly different from their counterparts in New York, Philadelphia and Charleston, regional variety also prevailed as craftsmen and artisans created ceramics, silver, textiles, paintings and buildings.

The keynote speaker, cultural historian and educator Barbara Carson, presents The Chipstone Lecture, “Cultural Diversity in Early America.” Other visiting presenters include Carrie Rebora Barrett, Metropolitan Museum of Art curator of American paintings and sculpture, who presents “Regional Rules and Provincial Politics: How American Painters Dodged the System.” Dean Failey of Christie’s New York discusses Regionalism in American Decorative Arts.

Regional preferences in silver are evident in “American Silver: The North,” presented by Ann K. Wagner, associate curator of decorative arts at Winterthur Museum & Country Estate, and “American Silver: The South,” presented by author and scholar Catherine Hollan, Connecticut antiques dealer Wayne Hilt discusses “American Pewter,” and Ceramics in America editor Robert Hunter presents “Ceramics in America: Think Globally, Act Locally.”

Visiting presenters also include Louis P. Nelson, associate professor at the University of Virginia, who discusses “Building Places: Regionalism in Early American Architecture.” Old Salem Museums and Gardens trustee Thomas Gray presents “My Personal Collection,” and North Carolina auctioneer Andrew Brunk discusses “American Furniture Before 1755.”

The program includes several presentations by Colonial Williamsburg professionals. Ronald Hurst, Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator and vice president of collections and museums, profiles “Regional Traits of Urban American Furniture, 1750-1800” and details “What’s New in the Colonial Williamsburg Collection.” Tara Gleason Chicirda, curator of furniture, explores “Regional Diversity in Rural American Furniture, 1750-1800.” Christopher Swan, furniture conservator, presents “Furniture Fakes and Forgeries.”

Lynne Dakin Hastings, Colonial Williamsburg curator of historic interiors, conducts curatorial tours of the Historic Area’s historic houses. Linda Baumgarten, curator of textiles and costume, explores “Dressing Up and Down: American Clothing as Decorative Art” and Kimberly Smith Ivey, associate curator of textiles, presents “Stitching Together a Nation: American Decorative Needlework.” Laura Pass Barry, associate curator of prints, maps and paintings, pictures regional variations in “Historic Views of America.”

“Sounds From the 17th Century: Music Heard, Sung and Played in Virginia’s First Hundred Years” provides diversion from the decorative arts to the musical arts with Colonial Williamsburg musicians John Turner, Cliff Williams and David Gardner.

The Antiques Forum program also offers several optional programs Feb. 2 -3:

  • A two-day tour of Middleburg in the heart of Virginia horse country with its rolling pastoral landscape dotted with vernacular stone, brick and log houses. The tour includes two decorative arts collections – Paul Mellon’s collection of Alfred Mannings paintings and the sporting art collection of the National Sporting Library – a visit to a restoration in progress at the 1805 farmhouse Vine Hill, a tour of Oatlands Plantation, and dinner and lodging at the Goodstone Inn,
  • A one-day tour of 18th-century plantations in Hanover County, a 1737 church and iconic Hanover Court Square, and lunch in a historic log tavern,
  • An in-depth one-day tour of the restoration of James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange County and Chief Justice John Marshall’s Richmond home, and
  • A one-day tour of impressive 18th-century plantation houses long the Rappahannock River in Virginia’s historic Northern Neck, including Carter Landon’s 1730s Sabine Hall and John Tayloe’s 1760s Mt. Airy, one of America’s most purely Palladian colonial houses.

    Optional workshops are offered Friday, Feb. 8:

  • A hands-on Introduction to 17th- and 18th-Century Graphics,
  • Caring for Your Ceramic and Glass: Protecting the Artfully Restored Collection,
  • Ceramics and the Dining Room,
  • Casting Your Own Pewter Spoon,
  • 18th-Century Rare Books and Manuscripts and
  • How to Examine Old Houses.

    Advance registration and payment in full for the 2008 Antiques Forum is required. Registration of $550 includes admission to program presentations, an opening reception, daily continental breakfasts, coffee breaks and afternoon refreshments and a closing reception and dinner. Optional programs incur additional fees. Special lodging rates are available for Antiques Forum attendees. For more information, telephone toll-free 1-800-603-0048 or visit

    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 tradespeople 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.

    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:
    Jim Bradley
    (757) 220-7281

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