at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
German Toys in America
This exhibition will feature a colorful variety of 19th-century German wooden toys from dolls and soldiers to arks and animals. During the period, around two thirds of the toys in American shops came from Germany. Known as The Toy Workshop of the World and The Land of Toys, Germany dominated the toy market for most of the 19th-century. American toy sellers ordered their merchandise through illustrated catalogs or sent agents to Germany who personally selected the best stock with which they filled their shelves. Children played house with dolls, waged battles with soldiers, reenacted the great flood with an ark full of animals, created towns, and managed their own zoos.
Opens October 29, 2016
From Forge and Furnace:
A Celebration of Early American Iron
Can iron and art be used in the same sentence? Absolutely! This hard, often black or gray, metal was used to make everything from stoves and hinges to andirons and weathervanes. As with most folk art, though, the makers of these utilitarian pieces chose to embellish their work to make them interesting and attractive although no more functional than if they left them unadorned. A stove could still heat a room whether it was a simple iron box or iron cast into a statue of George Washington. This exhibition highlights these decorative, yet useful, objects made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Iron mining and iron production were established in the colonies almost as soon as settlers arrived. By the American Revolution, Virginia had several furnaces providing the iron that was made into firebacks, stoveplates and a myriad of household items like ladles, toasters, trivets and tammels.
Opening Nov. 24, 2016 in the Peebles Gallery
Folk Art Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree is an annual tradition at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. Since 1959, the museum staff and volunteers have decorated the tree with handmade ornaments that reflect the rich collections of our Folk art Museum. Each ornament was made specifically for the tree and inspired by a favorite object. Many of the ornaments were made by our staff and Williamsburg residents. Over the years, visitors have added their own art to the tree as well. Today the 16-foot tree features over 2000 ornaments made from cloth, wood, tin, paper and recycled materials. Hundreds of tiny white lights add to the magic of this decorated tree that sits in the skylit Penny Court below a "ceiling" of hanging gold and silver stars.
Nov. 24, 2016 - Jan. 2, 2017
A Carolina Christmas
Enjoy a glimpse of Christmas past with a visit to the holiday exhibit A Carolina Christmas. The original 1830s parlor of a North Carolina home once owned by the Shaws will be furnished to reflect a 19th-century Christmas evening. A decoratively painted rocking chair will be nestled by the glowing fire while a grain-painted tall clock in the corner will note the late hour. In the center of the room, a decorated tree lit by candles will sit atop a table. Throughout the room, 19th -century toys including dolls, a train, soldiers and more will occupy space on the floor and settee. And of course the stockings will be hung with care on the mantel. Not to be missed while at the museum will be the 16-foot-tall lit tree that fills the two-story Penny Court. The annual Folk Art tree has been delighting guests for over 50 years. The tree will be decorated with over 1500 handmade ornaments based on folk art in the museum's collection.
Opening Nov. 24, 2016 in the Lucke Gallery
We the People: American Folk Portraits
In this anniversary year, the Folk Art Museum celebrates with a new exhibition featuring a wonderful collection of American folk portraits. One of the first folk art pieces Mrs. Rockefeller acquired was a charming painting of a child. From there, her collection grew. On view will be images of children with their favorite pet or toy, companion portraits of husband and wife, and paintings of individuals. These early American folk portraits are treasured for their historical significance as well as their aesthetic appeal. Without folk painters, the faces of many members of the middle and, sometimes, lower classes would not have been recorded. The portraits reveal much about ordinary people: how they lived, what they valued, and how they wished to be remembered. Folk portraits give us glimpses of the countless people who shaped America as vitally and lastingly as her better known movers and shakers. The artists too left something of themselves. They did not achieve their occupation through formal guidance or direction from others but, instead, through inborn talent and intuition. On view will be old favorites from the collections as well as new acquisitions never before exhibited.
Opening July 1, 2017 in the Clark Gallery
America's Folk Art
2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the oldest museum in the country devoted to American folk art. America's Folk Art celebrates not only six decades of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, but also pays tribute to Mrs. Rockefeller who began collecting folk art in the 1920s. Her keen eye and appreciation for the art of the common man created a collection of over 400 pieces that were eventually given to Colonial Williamsburg. Over the ensuing years, the collection has grown to over 4000 objects that date from the 18th century to the present day. An array of folk art will be on display showcasing highlights from the collection. This exhibition serves as an introduction to the other ten galleries filled with portraits, quilts, sculpture, musical instruments, toys, and weathervanes.
Opening May 6, 2017 in the Spayth Gallery