Special Exhibits at the Newport Mansions

The Preservation Society of Newport County is presenting three special exhibits in the Newport Mansions this summer, including a look at life in Colonial America, an examination of the development of one of the leading architects of the Gilded Age, and a costume exhibit displaying life at home from 1890 to 1950.  All exhibitions are open now, and are included with a regular admission ticket.

Point to Point: Hunter House and the Constellations of Communities

This new exhibition provides an innovative new look at the Preservation Society's first and oldest property, Hunter House (c.1748). The exhibition allows guests to experience Hunter House and its collections from a variety of perspectives, from wealthy merchants to enslaved Africans, French troops, and others whose daily lives shaped the world of Hunter House in Newport and beyond.  Visitors will see furniture turned on its head, as an upturned table demonstrates a craftsman's feat of engineering; a refined dining room becomes the setting for merchants and sea captains to wheel and deal; and a bedspread tells the story of a mother and daughter and women's role in commerce and community.  This exhibition runs through October 13, 2014.

 

Reinventing the Colonial: The Charles Follen McKim Photographs

Visitors to the Isaac Bell House (1883) can experience a collection of photographs commissioned in 1874 by architect Charles Follen McKim.  As a founding member of McKim, Mead & White, one of the most prolific architectural firms in American history, McKim was at the forefront of design in the late 19th century.  Among his earliest contributions to the design community was a portfolio of 29 black and white photographs of buildings, architectural details, furniture, and landscapes taken in and around Newport.  The exhibition explores the role the portfolio played in shaping McKim's stylistic vocabulary, specifically the incorporation of the architectural forms of the Colonial Revival combined with the ornamental details of the Aesthetic Movement. Presented in partnership with the Newport Historical Society, this exhibition runs through October 13, 2014.

 

Dressing Down: Private Life and the Dressing Gown, 1890-1950

The annual costume exhibition at Rosecliff (1902) features a series of vignettes depicting "life at home" from 1890 to 1950, showing dressing gowns and other personal apparel that gave women--and men--a reprieve from the elaborate and often constricting formal clothing of the period.  But even at home, glamour never took a day off.  Few garments offer a window into the private life and the constructs of femininity like the dressing gown.  These examples from the Preservation Society's collection, presented alongside complementary fine and decorative arts pieces, illustrate the changing history of fashion and the fluid concepts of modesty, comfort, and status in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century.  This exhibition runs through November 21, 2014.

 

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, is a non-profit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area's historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history.  Its 11 historic properties--seven of them National Historic Landmarks--span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.

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