Current Exhibitions

Now Showing in Our Schoolroom Gallery

Bringing Down the Boss: Thomas Nast Takes on Tweed and Tammany Hall
July 15, 2018-January 2019

Includes children’s exhibition, To Catch a Thief.

Thomas Nast (1840-1902) carried out a relentless campaign against the corruption of the Tammany Ring of New York beginning in 1871. Nast focused on William Magear Tweed (1823-1878), boss of New York City’s Tammany Hall, who had worked his way up from ward politician to become the top power broker in the city and state of New York. As head of the city’s Commission of Public Works, Boss Tweed handed out lucrative contracts to his cronies who then “kicked back” money to the Ring. Tweed defrauded the City of New York of millions dollars from 1865-1871, emptied the treasury and added millions of dollars to the public debt. Appointing his Tammany Hall associates to key public offices, Tweed kept his fraudulent activities quiet… for a time.

Nast was barely 30 years old when he learned of the Tammany Ring’s activities. The young, idealistic cartoonist attacked the corruption through vivid caricatures of Boss Tweed and members of the Ring. Nast’s cartoons enraged Tweed. Most of his constituents could not read the damning published reports, but they could see “them damn pictures!”

In 1873, the New-York Times reported that Tweed’s cronies tried to bribe Nast to stop him from publishing, offering him money to “go to Europe for three years for his health”. Nast laughingly turned down the offer, but the very real threats resulted in Nast’s move to Macculloch Avenue in Morristown to insure his family’s safety. Ultimately all the members of the Ring were tried, but Tweed escaped to Cuba and Spain, where he was recognized because of a Nast cartoon. Tweed was extradited to the United States and imprisoned. He died in the Ludlow Street Jail in New York City in 1878.

Now Showing in Our Upstairs Gallery

From Flame to Filament: Historic Lighting at Macculloch Hall
May 20-August 29, 2018

Artificial lighting devices served as luxuries from the mid-17th through the mid-19th centuries.  People’s lives revolved around sunlight; the day began with sunrise and ended with sunset.  A lighting device was not lit upon entering a room, as we would turn on an electric light switch today.  On the rare occasions that a lighting device was used in the home, the family would gather around and share the minimal light that was emitted.  These lighting devices such as candlesticks, oil lamps, rush light holders, among others were often expensive, even hazardous, and did not produce sufficient light. There were various types of each of these devices.  As time went on advancements were made to improve upon the current form of lighting.

In addition to those devices that were used to emit light, there were many other objects used to maximize the little light that most of these devices produced.  Water lenses were used in artisans’ shops to magnify the flame, looking glasses (mirrors) were used in the home to reflect the light of the fireplace, and mirrored or metal sconces were used to reflect the light of a candle.  Snuffers, extinguishers, screens, globes and other devices were also among the necessary accessories for candles and lamps.