Event Details

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  • October 11, 2013 - October 11, 2013

The Concord Museum presents a new exhibition as part of a first-time, statewide collaboration Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture (FCMF details on final page.)  Concord Museum Curator David F. Wood uses detailed shop records, and exquisitely crafted objects by William Munroe, to depict the life and work of a talented federal-era craftsman and has captured the essence of this remarkable craftsman and entrepreneur who truly was "The Best Workman in the Shop."

The Best Workman in the Shop explores William Munroe's (1778 - 1861) life and career through the objects he made - including some of the most beautiful clocks crafted in Massachusetts, exquisitely crafted furniture and his detailed shop records.  Perhaps most revealing is his 1839 autobiographical account, an incomparable archive of a Federal-era craftsman.  The autobiography and numerous records from Munroe's shop are the generous gift to the Concord Museum of William Munroe's great, great grandchildren, Bill and Charlie Munroe.

The grandson of Patriot activists, Munroe arrived in Concord in 1800, with a set of tools and patterns for making clock cases, and $3.40 in cash.  Forty years later he proudly recorded having more than $20,000 in assets, a remarkable achievement for a craftsman at that time.  William Munroe crafted fine cases for clocks (made by his brother Daniel Munroe) as well as sideboards, chests of drawers, and fire screens for his family and neighbors.  He was on contract to Boston retailers before briefly abandoning cabinetmaking to manufacture the first wooden-cased graphite lead pencils made in the United States. 

Exhibition Related Programming at the Concord Museum:

The Best Workman in the Shop Gallery Talk with Curator David Wood

Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 2 p.m. Free with Museum Admission but reservations required as space is limited - call 978 369 9763 x 216

The Inaugural Sally Lanagan Lecture at the Concord Museum

Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m

Opening the Drawers: An Inside Look at the Concord Museum Collection

Presented by Brock Jobe, Professor of American Decorative Arts, Winterthur Museum

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