Conferences, Forums, and Workshops
The office of Conferences, Forums and Workshops presents a broad range of high-quality programs that address issues of historical and contemporary significance as well as focusing on the decorative arts, material culture, historic trades and horticulture. Colonial Williamsburg's skilled professionals are joined by distinguished members of the academic and professional communities to present these programs.
Join us for the Garden Symposium, Working Wood, the Antiques Forum, and other programs for a rewarding learning experience.
Please bookmark this site and check back frequently for new offerings. Special conference rates are available for programs at Colonial Williamsburg's official hotels. To make room and dining reservations, call (757) 220-7255 Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m.
Program Information and Online Registration
May 19-21, 2013
The Chesapeake House:
Architectural Investigation by Colonial Williamsburg
To mark the publication of The Chesapeake House: Architectural Investigation by Colonial Williamsburg by the University of North Carolina Press, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will offer a three-day conference focusing on the methods used by architectural historians at Colonial Williamsburg to investigate buildings as well as review new discoveries in the field. The Chesapeake House is a major scholarly landmark that will set the standard for the analysis and history of early Virginia and Maryland architecture for the coming decades. The seventeen essays are based on the collective scholarship of nine authors who have been involved in research in this field for the past three decades. Participants in the conference will receive a copy of the book as part of their registration.
Through a series of lectures, conversations, and specialized tours of the Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg, The Chesapeake House conference provides an insider’s view of how Colonial Williamsburg’s experts examine historic buildings. The program will appeal to teachers, students, preservationists, and other professionals in the field as well as friends of Colonial Williamsburg and members of the general public with interests in old houses, American history, restoration, and historic preservation. Presentations will explore the practice of architectural fieldwork, the nature of regionalism in building design, and the development of a distinctive framing system in the colonial period. Specialists will discuss the latest techniques of dendrochronoly and paint analysis.
There will be a special audience participation session entitled “How old is your house?” Often, it is one of the first questions homeowners ask and it is always essential for architectural historians to determine. Yet, such a basic query is often hard to answer. Assessing the age and alterations made to buildings is challenging since the process involves piecing together disparate kinds of evidence found in many different parts of a house, from the attic to the cellar. How was the frame constructed? What kind of bonding pattern does the chimney have? What sort of hinges are on the doors? Some details provide solid diagnostic clues while others are less helpful. However, when combined, they can provide plausible dates to within a few years or decades.
Curious about the age of your old house or one you know? Here is your chance to start the process of figuring it out. “Making Sense of the Evidence” will provide an interactive opportunity to review and analyze the material you submit with other participants. This session will demonstrate how the experts read the evidence from the field to make a reasonable estimate of the age of a house based on its form, construction, and style of various features.
We're sorry. This conference has sold out.
May 30 - June 2
2013 joint meeting of the American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) and the Historical Keyboard Society of North America (HKS-NA)
The 2013 joint meeting of the American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) and the Historical Keyboard Society of North America (HKS-NA) will convene in Williamsburg, Virginia, within the timeframe of May 30 to June 2, 2013. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is host for a program of concerts, recitals, papers, meals, and museums.
Step into an eighteenth-century landscape including restored colonial architecture, historic trades, period costume, and many other extensively researched aspects of life and culture in colonial Virginia. See and hear period instruments in period spaces. Look behind the scenes at study collections of instruments and other historic objects, conservation laboratories, library collections, and other research facilities.
The featured exhibit, "Changing Keys: Keyboard Instruments for America 1770-1830," elegantly presents 27 examples from the collection, most exhibited for the first time.
Symposium: Threads of Feeling Unraveled: The London Foundling Hospital's Textile Tokens
In association with Threads of Feeling, the loan exhibition of eighteenth-century textile tokens from the London Foundling Hospital that opens at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum on May 25, 2013, Colonial Williamsburg is hosting a symposium that will explore these objects in context. When a mother left her infant at the Hospital during the mid-eighteenth century, she was asked for a token that was attached to the paper record, allowing her to later identify and reclaim her own child if her circumstances improved. Most of the tokens took the form of scraps of fabric, ribbons, or cuttings from the baby's own clothing, identified in the record by their period names. The textile swatches are an invaluable source for identifying everyday textiles and the clothing of infants. As part of the symposium, exhibit guest curator and noted author John Styles will present two lectures. His keynote lecture will give a "behind the scenes" look at the development of the Threads of Feeling exhibit that received rave reviews in London. Styles will also discuss the history of the Foundling Hospital, the London scene, what is known about the identity of the infants, and the various meanings that can be unraveled from the evocative tokens. Other lectures will discuss clothing for infants and children, what women wore during pregnancy, childhood and orphans in America, the use of similar textiles by adults in Britain and America, and the processes by which the textiles were created.
The Threads of Feeling exhibition was organized by the Foundling Museum in London and curated by John Styles. The artifacts are owned by Coram and stored at and cared for by the London Metropolitan Archives.
The Colonial Williamsburg exhibition of Threads of Feeling was supported in part by a grant from Mary and Clint Gilliland of Menlo Park, California, through the Turner-Gilliland Family Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Download Brochure - Please review the program brochure BEFORE registering for the conference.
Painters and Paintings in the Early American South
Mark your calendars and plan to join us November 3-5, 2013, for the Painters and Paintings of the Early American South symposium. Organized in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, the conference will bring together scholars and lecturers on the topic of early southern painting.
Scheduled speakers include:
- Carolyn Weekley, Colonial Williamsburg’s Juli Grainger curator emerita.
- Ellen Miles, curator emerita of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
- Elle Shushan, noted dealer in portrait miniatures.
- Robert Leath, chief curator and vice president, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.
- Angela Mack, director of the Gibbes Museum of Art.
The program opens on Sunday evening with a lecture by Colonial Williamsburg chief curator emeritus, Graham Hood, and is followed by two days of lectures and tours. Optional workshops staged in the paintings conservation labs and art storage areas will be available on Wednesday. A detailed schedule and registration information will be available in early summer.
Working Wood in the 18th Century
March 16 - 19
Call for Papers: Millinery through Time
In 2014, Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop will celebrate its 60th anniversary. To mark this event, from March 16 through March 19, 2014, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will present a symposium highlighting Millinery through Time.
Throughout history, the millinery trade has changed, adapted, and thrived. Beginning as dealers of Milan wares, milliners evolved to encompass a business of a thousand things, and lately to specialize in a single product, hats. This symposium will explore the rich contribution that milliners and their trade have made to the past and present and look to future possibilities. Papers should address the people, fashion, merchandising, and trade work of the milliner from the 18th to the 21st centuries.
Researchers and designers are invited to submit 300-word abstract proposals for illustrated oral lectures 25 minutes in length. Paper proposals are due to Colonial Williamsburg for peer review by March 25, 2013; acceptances will be announced May 10, 2013. Those whose abstracts are selected for presentation will receive free symposium registration. Abstracts will be published in the symposium brochure.
Submit abstracts to:
Attention: Janea Whitacre, Historic Trades Milliner
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
P.O. Box 1776
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187
Or by email at email@example.com
For general information about the symposium, contact Deb Chapman at 800-603-0948 or 757-220-7255 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Brochure downloads require Adobe Reader
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Post Office Box 1776
Williamsburg, VA 23187-1776
Fax: (757) 565-8921
Telephone: (757) 220-7255
Toll free: (800) 603-0948