British artifacts come out of storage at new Colonial Williamsburg exhibitFebruary 11, 2020 | In the Press
From a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I to rococo-style furniture, select pieces from Colonial Williamsburg’s collection of British works have come out of storage for the Art Museums’ latest exhibit “British Masterworks: Ninety Years of Collecting at Colonial Williamsburg."
Ronald Hurst, vice president for museums, preservation and historic resources, said they decided to install the exhibit because the museum has many examples of fine and decorative British arts acquired in the foundation’s early history when it was thought every major city in the colonies would have the finest imported goods.
“What we began to understand in a much more wholesome way in the 1970s is that in a place like Williamsburg, or any of the other capital cities, a majority of the furniture being used during the time of the Revolution was made locally,” Hurst said.
So they began furnishing the building to be more historically accurate, and these pieces of British furniture were put in storage. When the museum first opened in 1985, some of the pieces went back on view, but many were kept in storage until now, according to Hurst.
“To me what’s the most exciting about this is being able to share these remarkable objects with the public,” he said.
“And many of these objects are nationally important in their quality.”
One such piece is a floor-length clock from the 1690s made for King William III. It was owned by every British monarch through Queen Victoria. In addition to its historical importance, Hurst said it’s a technological marvel.
“At this time in history, clocks ran for a maximum of eight days before winding, this one runs for a month,” he said. “The calendar wheel adjusts itself for leap year, and now we’re talking 1690s here, so very, very advanced."
He added the exhibit won’t remain stagnant and will change over time.
“We will rotate other objects through so you’ll be able to see it be refreshed as different things from the collection come out to have their moment in the sun,” Hurst said.