New Englanders Abroad: Souvenirs from the Grand Tour, 1830–1880
May 12–October 14, 2019
The Grand Tour—or extended travel through continental Europe and the British Isles—was an essential part of a proper education for wealthy young Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. While visiting historic monuments and museums, American tourists were exposed to Europe’s high culture. They also had the opportunity to socialize with Europeans of similar social standing and other Americans abroad, to develop friendships, and occasionally to meet a future spouse. The installation features grand tour scrapbooks and journals from the 1850s to the 1870s, as well as photographs, artworks, and objects collected in Europe by New Englanders.
The Best of York: Treasures from the Collection
This permanent installation brings together more than seventy objects made or used between 1690 and 1850 in Southern Maine and the Piscataqua Region of New Hampshire. Together they tell the story of York—one of New England’s oldest communities—from its development as a frontier outpost in the 17th century, to a community with sophisticated tastes and world views in the 18th century. These regionally-made objects are of such exceptional quality, that similar examples may be found in museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Winterthur Museum, Wilmington, Delaware; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.
The Bulman Bed Hangings
Worked in wool on hand-woven linen by Mary Swett Bulman (1715–1792) of York in the 1730s, this exceptional set of bed hangings is an extraordinary survivor. Consisting of four curtains, a head cloth, tester, outer valances, and inner valances, they are believed to be the most complete surviving set of American embroidered bed hangings from the 18th century. The textiles are decorated with an embroidered garden of flowers and fruit trees, and a lyrical verse from Sir Isaac Watts’ poem, “A Meditation in a Grove” (published in Horae Lyricae, 1706).
For more information about the Bulman bed hangings, please see our blog.