Colonial Williamsburg® The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Official History and Citizenship Website

Page content
Reset text sizeResize text larger

February 21, 2008

New folk art exhibition celebrates the vision of Lewis Miller

Museum guests of Colonial Williamsburg can explore glimpses of American life in the 1840s and 1850s at a new exhibition in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. “Scenes from Everyday Life: The Drawings of Lewis Miller” opens March 15.

Miller, a Pennsylvania house carpenter by trade, enjoyed opportunities to travel and kept illustrated accounts of places he visited.

Lewis Miller is best known today for his rare and incisive personal perspective illustrated by hundreds of his surviving watercolor sketches. He was the 10th and youngest child of German immigrants who settled in York, Pa. His father, a schoolmaster, provided Miller with a literary and classical education.

Although there is no evidence Miller had any formal training in art, his intricate drawings offer detailed portrayals of the places he visited and the people he encountered. His keen eye and interest in what he observed produced the splendid collection of watercolor-and-ink drawings in the exhibition. “Miller’s drawings are one of the best sources for truly understanding the past,” said Laura Pass Barry, Colonial Williamsburg’s associate curator of prints, maps and paintings. “Miller's observations of life's simple pleasures are recorded in his art. His drawings are rare survivals which document the ways ordinary 19th-century Americans spent their free time — travel to see relatives, a walk in the woods, or spending time with friends — timeless pursuits that we still enjoy today.”

“Scenes from Everyday Life: The Drawings of Lewis Miller” will be on view in The Mary B. and William Lehman Guyton Gallery through Jan. 2, 2009. Admission is by any Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket, Annual Museums Pass or Good Neighbor Card.

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made in America during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and embracing most categories of American folk art by well-known folk artists.

Contained within the same facility since February 2007, the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are comprised of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are located at the intersection of Francis and South Henry Streets and are entered through the Public Hospital of 1773. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 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. 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. “Revolutionary City®” a daily dramatic live street theatre 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:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281