Published: January 8, 2016
WILLIAMSBURG, VA. — The 68th Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum convenes February 19-24 and promises guests a trip through America’s first half century, when seismic cultural shifts spawned astounding change in the nation’s decorative arts.
“Creating an American Identity: A Revolution in Decorative Arts, 1776-1826” features a series of programs highlighting the expertise of top historians and curators from around the United Stataes, with optional regional tours and workshops available for registered guests.
“With independence from Great Britain, the United States was free to trade with nations around the world. As technology enhanced tradecraft, migration within and beyond the former colonies blurred the lines between regional styles,” said Ronald L. Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg’s Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president of collections, conservation and museums. “These forces together revolutionized American decorative arts in the early national period.”
Highlights of this year’s forum include guest presenters Philip Zea, president of Historic Deerfield, Mass., who will discuss “The Revolution in Craftsmanship: Fate, Fashion and Furniture in the War for Independence;” Matthew Thurlow of the Decorative Arts Trust, whose presentation is titled “Fit for the Virtuous Woman: A Neoclassical Lady’s Writing Desk from Baltimore;” and scholar H. Parrott Bacot, who will address “Louisiana Furniture: the Acculturation Process, 1735-1835.”
Optional bus trips precede the forum and depart from the Williamsburg Lodge. They include the overnight “Plantations of the Albemarle,” February 18-19, led by Robert A. Leath, vice president, collections and research and chief curator of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) at Old Salem, Winston-Salem, N.C., and Sally Gant, MESDA director of education and special programs.
Optional one-day bus trips February 19 are “South of the James: Powhatan and Amelia Counties,” led by Sara Lee Barnes, library associate, University of Virginia Library, and independent scholar Gordon Lohr of Richmond; “The Lower James: Bricks and Stones and Colonial Bones,” led by antiquarian Ralph Harvard and Matt Webster, director of Colonial Williamsburg’s Grainger Department of Architectural Preservation; and “Richmond’s Finest: The Georgian Revival Houses of William Lawrence Bottomley and Herbert A. Claiborne.” led by J. Thomas Savage, director of museum affairs, Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.
Optional curator-led workshops February 24 at the Bruton Heights Collections and Conservation Building are “Eagles, Bellflowers and Tapered Legs: Neoclassicism in American Furniture,” “Up Close and Personal: A Study of Post-revolutionary Portraits,” “Treatment Techniques in the Textile Conservation Laboratory,” “Punch Bowls to Peace Medals: Commemorative Goods of the Early Republic,” and “Transforming the George Wythe House into Washington’s Headquarters.”
Registration is available online at history.org/conted or by calling 1-800-603-0948. Forum registration is $650 per person and includes presentations, an opening reception, four continental breakfasts, four coffee breaks, three afternoon refreshment breaks, a closing dinner and Colonial Williamsburg admission through February 26. Museum professional registration is available for $325, limited to two registrants per institution and does not include the closing dinner. Opening reception tickets for non-registered guests are $50, closing reception and dinner tickets for non-registered guests are $85.
Registration for the optional bus tours is $175-$325. Registration for each optional curator-led workshop is $75.
Special lodging rates at Colonial Williamsburg hotels are available to forum registrants. Dining and group lodging reservations can be made by calling 1-800-261-9530. Information on services available at the Spa of Colonial Williamsburg is available by calling 1-800-688-6479.
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