“Styling an American Family” opened on Saturday September 8 to thunderous approval. Despite bad weather, the exhibition opening reception – which sold-out a week prior to the event – was attended by members and non-members from near and far. A little rain wasn’t going to stop this much anticipated celebration! The exhibition was on view and many of our dedicated docents were on hand to answer questions and provide our guests with information about the fashions and vignettes. On the front porch, a beautiful catered reception offered some delicious light fare and cocktails. And curator of the “Styling an American Family” exhibition, Jeffrey Mayer, lectured about the exhibition, from the initial idea and inspiration, to research and preparation, to installation. Check out our Facebook album for some great shots of this fashionable evening.
“Styling an American Family” is now on view and has already had an effect on the way we experience the Log House. Reintroducing the human form into this space has made it clear – this was a house that was lived in and loved by very real people. Family photos and newspaper clippings show that the house was often filled with the music and laughter of lively teens and young women, the trappings of whose daily life weren’t as austere as their father’s furniture. The soft and feminine fashions of the times are now fully integrated with Stickley’s clean, rectilinear furniture. The contrast is sharp, but they also complement each other in unexpected and interesting ways. For example, we quickly noticed how the colors and patterns in each of the dance dresses mimic the colors in the Donegal carpets in the dining room, in a delightful way that brightens up the space.
One of our goals in mounting this exhibition was to help our visitors fully imagine life in the Log House in the 1910s, to envision the girlish shenanigans that must have taken place, and to consider what life was really like. Surprisingly, even those of us who are here every day feel as though we are seeing the Log House and its time period with fresh eyes. For more images of the exhibition check out our Facebook album of installation shots, thanks to Stephen Sartori.
There was a telling moment during the installation of the exhibition; the curator was making some final adjustments to the vignette of four girls around the living room piano. As he moved the last mannequin into place, and it became apparent that everything was where it should be, he said it looked perfect; “it’s as if I can hear them singing.” The vignettes have sparked some fascinating conversations already about time and place. They have caused us to question some preconceived notions of this particular time in American social history. But most of all they have enabled us to remember that this place was, first and foremost, a family’s home.
Through January 6, 2013 all of our basic tours will include an overview of this insightful and fashionable exhibition of authentic period garments and accessories. In addition to taking our basic tour, be sure to sign up for one of our special tours focusing on the “Styling an American Family” exhibition. In these tours, offered at 1p.m. on weekends, our knowledgeable docents explore upper-middle-class fashion and culture in 1910s America, affording every visitor the opportunity to ask questions and discuss areas of interest. Sign up online to investigate style, etiquette, customs and culture during this fascinating and transitional time in American fashion and history. These tours will be offered through January 6, 2013 only and space is limited.
Blogger’s note: “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” was a popular song first released in 1909. The music was written by Gus Edwards, and the lyrics by Edward Madden.