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Furniture of the American South, 1680-1830, The Colonial Williamsburg Collection


The landmark exhibition, Furniture of the American South, 1680-1830, The Colonial Williamsburg Collection, will bring more than 50 of its renowned pieces to Nashville's Cheekwood Museum of Art October 11, 2003 - January 4, 2004.

"This is truly a momentous occasion for our region, said Museum Director Jack Becker. "Nowhere in America can visitors see such an extensive grouping of furniture from this period in Southern history as has been assembled in this collection.

Furniture of the American South shows the astonishing array of chairs, bedsteads, tables, and case furniture made by Southern joiners, turners, and cabinetmakers. Furniture in the exhibition is selected to illustrate taste, technology, and cultural diversity in the three primary regions of the early South the Chesapeake, the Carolina Low Country and the Backcountry.

For years, antiques collectors and connoisseurs thought there was "little or no furniture made in the early South. Contrary to popular belief, artisans produced a remarkable range of furniture from the late 17th Century through the antebellum period. The South was not only the land of English planters and African slaves so often depicted in American lore, but it was diverse culture that also included Welsh, Irish, Scottish, Scots-Irish, Swiss, German, French, and Caribbean immigrants and their children. These men and women lived and worked not only on the great plantations, but on small, isolated farms, in large urban seaports, and around inland market towns.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, with the assistance of the Trust for Museum Exhibitions, organized this traveling exhibition from their stellar collection. Since the 1930s, Colonial Williamsburg has actively pursued objects and slowly assembled one of the largest collections of Southern furniture anywhere. This exhibition is the first such expansive show to travel in 40 years.

"Each year we learn more about Southern furniture, says Lisa Porter, Cheekwood curator for the exhibition. "Many people now collect Southern furniture exclusively especially here in Tennessee, according to Porter. "This landmark exhibition offers not only beautiful objects and history, but a chance to see how early Southerners interacted by making and using these pieces of old furniture.


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