Located in Williamsburg, Virginia, the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum aims to entertain and educate visitors about life during colonial times, mainly the textiles, clothing, and decorate arts that were popular at the time. Visitors can expect world-class exhibits and exciting programs and events hosted year-round for members of the entire family.



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History:

The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum was founded in 1985 as a part of Colonial Williamsburg. The museum is home to a vast collection of British and American antiques from between the 17th and 19th century.

Current Exhibitions:

Printed Fashions: Textiles for Clothing and Home: Currently, Colonial Williamsburg is showcasing its vast collection of textiles from the 17th-19th century at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum for the first time! This collection features an array of bright colors and patterns on fabrics used for clothing and furnishings during the period. There are more than 75 objects on display including curtains, gowns, waistcoats, and bed furnishings. This exhibit is open in the Gililand Gallery through 2018.

Chinese Export Porcelain: This exhibit displays hundreds of special pieces of Chinese porcelain, everything from tea cups to plates are featured. Chinese porcelain was an important and influential part of colonial life during the 18th century.

Architectural Clues to 18th-Century Williamsburg: This exhibit features displays of architecturally-significant buildings from the 18th and 19th century. Visitors can explore the elements of both demolished and surviving buildings from the Historic Area. This is an ongoing exhibition.

Silver from Mine to Masterpiece: This exhibit features the magnificent metal, silver, and its presence in early America and Britain. There are more than 250 silver objects on display from coins to jewelry and religious items.

Birds, Bugs, and Blooms: Observing the Natural World in the 18th century: This exhibit features drawings, prints, and paintings from the 18th century. There is a wide variety of style and colors as these artists depicted the natural world and a wide variety of animal species. Artists such as Mark Catesby and George Edwards on display, as well as various letters from the time.

A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South: This exhibit celebrates and explores the artwork which was imported to Chesapeake, Carolina Lowcountry, and Backcountry from 1670-1840. More than 350 items including jewelry, ceramics, firearms, clothing, and artifacts are brought together to tell a compelling story of the early south.

Changing Keys: Keyboard Instruments for America, 1700-1830: This exhibit features a wide variety of pianos, harpsichords, and spinets dating from the 1700’s and 1800’s. This significant collection has never been displayed before and allows visitors to hear the music made by some of these historical pieces. This exhibition is ongoing.

Richard Newsham’s Fire Engine: This exhibit displays a refurbished fire engine from the 18th-century! This rare item resembles a fancy coffin on four wheels and was, ironically, highly flammable.

Rebuilding Charlton’s Coffeehouse: This exhibit tells the story of the first reconstruction in decades of the Charlton’s Coffeehouse along Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg. This exhibit explores how ensuring the proper upkeep of a building like this can ensure the most accurate telling of the past.

American Furniture: from Virginia to Vermont: This exhibit explores the creative and constructive process of building furniture during 17th and 18th century America. This is an ongoing exhibition.

Lock, Stock, and Barrel: This exhibit highlights one of the most expansive collection of Colonial firearms. Ever wonder what it feels like to hold a musket from the 1700’s? Historical pieces from Native Americans, the Dutch, the French, and the English are also on display. This exhibition is on display until mid-2018.

Revolution in taste: This exhibit features pieces from everyday life in Colonial times which were once considered important aspects of social standings. Visitors can see what objects made households the hit of the town, everyday objects which we take for granted now. This is an ongoing exhibition.

Upcoming Events:

There are all kinds of period-based events held year-round at the museum, including lectures, musical performances, and themed-exhibitions.

Benjamin Franklin & the Hot Air Balloon: This upcoming lecture features author and historian, Tony Williams, as he explores the invention of the hot air balloon and the time when Benjamin Franklin negotiated peace settlements in the Revolutionary War.

Educational Programs:

There are a wide variety of educational programs and tours available at the museum, including specialized programs for younger children. Be sure to check out the Colonial Williamsburg website and calendar of events for more information.

Additional Information:

DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, 101 Visitor Center Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23185, website, Phone: 888-965-7254

Back to: Williamsburg, Virginia

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