Exhibition | Lives Bound Together: Slavery at Mount Vernon

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 19, 2017

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Now on view at Mount Vernon:

Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon
The Donald W. Reynolds Museum, Mount Vernon, 1 October 2016 –30 September 2017

Mount Vernon was George Washington’s home. It was also home to hundreds of enslaved people who lived and worked under Washington’s control: in 1799, there were 317 men, women, and children enslaved at Mount Vernon’s five farms, which covered 8,000 acres. They made up more than 90% of the population of the estate.

House Bell, ca. 1784–88; Copper alloy, iron (Mount Vernon).

Through household furnishings, art works, archaeological discoveries, documents, and interactive displays, the exhibition, which spans 4,400 square feet throughout all seven galleries of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum, demonstrates how closely intertwined the lives of the Washingtons were with those of the enslaved. Nineteen enslaved individuals are featured throughout the exhibit, represented with life-size silhouettes and interactive touchscreens providing biographical details.

More than 350 items are on view—seeds and animal bones, ceramic fragments, and metal buttons unearthed from archaeological excavations around the estate, as well as fine tablewares and furniture from the Washington household, providing insights into the enslaved community’s daily lives and work. Guests gain a better understanding of Washington’s changing views towards slavery, culminating in his landmark decision to include in his will a provision freeing the slaves that he owned. Visitors will have an opportunity to view original manuscript pages from George Washington’s will, written in July 1799, showing his decision to free the slaves he owned. The exhibition profiles 19 individuals enslaved at Mount Vernon, using George Washington’s extensive records to piece together what is known of their lives in interactive displays.

Susan P. Schoelwer, ed., with an introduction by Annette Gordon-Reed, Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon (2016), 172 pages, ISBN: 978  970931  9170, $20.

Lives Bound Together provides fresh research on this important topic, with brief biographies of 19 enslaved individuals, 10 essays, and 130 illustrations, including paintings, prints, and household furnishings from the Mansion, artifacts excavated by archaeologists from the slave quarters, documents, maps, and conjectural silhouettes that suggest the presence of the enslaved.


2017 Mount Vernon Symposium

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on May 19, 2017

Next month at Mount Vernon:

Under My Vine & Fig Tree: Gardening, Landscape, and Design in the Age of Washington
Mount Vernon, 2–4 June 2017

Morning sunlight highlights colorful beds in George Washington’s upper garden with seed house in the background, 2012. Photo by John Henley.

Join leading gardeners, historians, horticulturalists, archaeologists, and preservationists as they reconsider the importance of gardening, landscapes, and design in early America. Learn how Washington and his contemporaries shaped the natural world to achieve beauty through gardening, profited through agriculture, and conveyed civic values through landscape design—and how these historic methods remain relevant in today’s world. Revisit long-lost gardens, explore contemporary creations inspired by the past, and come face-to-face with the most authentic 18th-century plantation landscape in the United States.

F R I D A Y ,  2  J U N E  2 0 1 7

12:30  Registration

1:00  Welcome and Introductions

1:15  William Rieley (Landscape Architect for The Garden Club of Virginia), Proportion without Mathematics in Early Virginia Landscapes

2:00 William C. Welch (Professor and Landscape Horticulturist for Texas A & M University), Exploring our Southern Gardening Heritage

2:45  Break

3:15  Dean Norton (Director of Horticulture at George Washington’s Mount Vernon), George Washington’s Mount Vernon Landscape

4:15  Landscape and Mansion Tours

5:45  Reception

6:30  Dinner

S A T U R D A Y ,  3  J U N E  2 0 1 7

8:45  Welcome and Introductions

9:00  Forrest Pritchard (full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author), Restoration Agriculture: Building Fertility and Protecting our Watershed through Sustainable Farming

10:00  Break

10:15  Luke Pecoraro (Director of Archaeology at George Washington’s Mount Vernon), ‘We have done very little investigation there; there is a great deal yet to do’: The Changing Historic Landscape of George Washington’s Mount Vernon

11:00  Bruce Ragsdale (recently served as Mount Vernon’s inaugural fellow in the Georgian Papers Programme at the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle), The Landscape of Improvement: Washington, George III, and the Picturesque Farm

12:00  Lunch

1:30  Morrie Heckscher (Curator Emeritus of the American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Creating Central Park

2:30  Break

3:00  Joseph P. Gromacki (Chicago-based attorney, collector of American decorative arts, and avid gardener with a keen interest in heirloom plants), Kelton House Farm: Celebrating the History of Gardening in Colonial America

3:45  Gabriele Rausse (Director of Gardens and Grounds at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello), Jefferson and Wine

5:00  Reception and Wine Tasting

6:30  Dinner, Whiskey Tasting, and Tours, George Washington’s Distillery and Gristmill

S U N D A Y ,  4  J U N E  2 0 1 7

7:45  Optional Episcopal Service and Tour at Nearby Historic Pohick Church, where George Washington Attended and Served as Vestryman

9:30  Leslie B. Grigsby (Winterthur’s Senior Curator of Ceramics and Glass), Blooms Transported: Ceramic Vases and Floral Ornament

10:15  Thomas Ranier (Thomas Rainer is a landscape architect, teacher, and author living outside of Washington, D.C.), The Garden of the Future: Re-Imagining the American Yard

11:00  Break

11:30  Curator-led Tours of Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon



%d bloggers like this: