Presidential History: W. Parsons Todd Collects Washington, Lincoln, and More!
September 17, 2017-January 28, 2018
Dorothy “Dolley” Payne Todd Madison (1768-1849) was the great-great-aunt, by marriage, of Macculloch Hall Historical Museum’s founder, W. Parsons Todd (1877-1976). Although this relationship seems rather stretched, Todd was proud of his link to early United States history, which reinforced his personal ideas of patriotism. Todd’s presidential memorabilia collection reflects his heroes among the traditional “founding fathers” of Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. These artifacts add a sense of glamour and vitality to his Museum as the First Lady herself had once touched the nation’s capital.
The exhibition also anticipates the interest of children in history, and includes a special children’s component titled Eating & Working in the President’s House. Through interactive displays, children learn about the day-to-day lives of famous presidents and their families.
From Homestead to Historic House: The Architectural History of Macculloch Hall
May 14-August 27, 2017
George Macculloch, a Scotsman born in Bombay, emigrated from London to America with his wife and two children in 1806. Settling in Morristown in 1810, Macculloch built a Federal-style brick mansion on a 26-acre gentleman’s farm. A businessman, scholar, and visionary, Macculloch is best known as the “father” of the Morris Canal, an international engineering marvel. Generations of the Macculloch family influenced education, economics, politics and cultural events of their day.
The “Old House,” as it was known to Macculloch’s descendants, was acquired by Morristown philanthropist W. Parsons Todd in 1949 to house his collections.
The Art of the Book: Thomas Nast Paints The Arabian Nights
February 16- May 25, 2017
One Thousand and One Nights or the Arabian Nights has captivated audiences since antiquity. Set in exotic locations throughout the Middle East and South Asia these exciting folk tales, deeply rooted in oral tradition, were compiled into Arabic from the eighth through the thirteenth centuries. By the eighteenth century, the Arabian Nights were entertaining western audiences through various translations in French (1704-1717) and English (1706).
Though over time stories were added and omitted, the frame story or organizing principle remained the same: over 1,001 nights Scheherazade told a story to her husband, King Shahryar. Scheherazade either did not finish the night’s story or began a new story stopping midway to pick it up the next evening in order to hold the king’s attention and ultimately to save her life.
Interest in The Arabian Nights continued through the nineteenth century. Thomas Nast (1840-1902) painted the series of watercolors on display for an edition that was never published. Nast was a prolific book illustrator whose work appeared in more than 125 books on topics ranging from politics and the military to children’s and Christmas books, among others.
This exhibition features the 16 watercolors Nast created for the Arabian Nights together with a selection of books enriched by Nast’s illustrations and includes a special children’s section.
Fashion for the Far East: Collecting Chinoiserie at Macculloch Hall
September 18, 2016-February 5, 2017
Like many collectors at the time, W. Parsons Todd (1877-1976) delighted in objects made in China and Japan and those created in Europe inspired by Asian design during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This exhibition traced the popularity among early twentieth century collectors for decorative objects made in or inspired by the East through a selection of carpets and porcelain in the Museum’s collection. Objects displayed included the fine antique carpets woven in China, the Rose Medallion china made in China for export to the West, a pair of monumental Satsuma Vases urns made in Japan, and a pair of monumental vases created in an Asian style in Dresden, Germany.
Two Centuries of Cultivating Green Space: The History of Macculloch Hall’s Gardens
May 15-September 1, 2016
This exhibition traced the history of the gardens established at 45 Macculloch Ave. George Macculloch (1775-1858) was an avid gardener who cultivated his 26 acres to feed his family and as a form of creative expression. Credited with growing the first New Jersey tomato, Macculloch kept a detailed journal and notes on successes and failures. Through photographs, design plans and journals, this exhibition traced the history of the gardens from the nineteenth-century kitchen garden and farm, to the Victorian and early-twentieth century gardens favored by later generations of the Miller Family. The exhibition focused particularly on the history of the mid-twentieth-century design created at the bequest of W. Parsons Todd by the Garden Club of Morristown.
Antique Carpets Through the Eyes of W. Parsons Todd (through May 1, 2016)
This exhibition featured 17 carpets, rarely on display, from the Museum’s collection, with a selection of books and photographs that informed serious collectors during the first half of the twentieth century. W. Parsons Todd (1877-1976), founder of Macculloch Hall, was an esteemed carpet collector who had an eye for fine rugs. Todd was an early member and served as an officer of the Hajji Baba Club, a group of collectors and scholars dedicated to the study of fine textiles. During the course of his collecting, Todd amassed a library of fine books including, Oriental Carpets, a portfolio of photographs published in 1891 by the Imperial Royal Austrian Commercial Museum, Vienna, Austria, dedicated to antique carpet connoisseurship. Beautiful in their own right, these books and photographs are invaluable for the information they offer into patterns of collecting early in the twentieth century.
Antique Carpets Through the Eyes of W. Parsons Todd was made possible, in part, by the generous support of J&S Designer Flooring, Morristown, NJ.
This exhibition was supported, in part, by the F.M. Kirby Foundation. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is a nonprofit educational affiliate of the W. Parsons Todd Foundation and received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the New Jersey Department of State.
Down Through the Chimney:A Thomas Nast Christmas
December 2, 2017-January 14, 2018
Thomas Nast (1840-1902) enjoyed drawing Santa Claus and Christmas images throughout his career. He often drew the rooftops and chimneys of the homes Santa Claus would visit. Many of the rooftops and church spires seen in the images were the ones Nast was most familiar with, the ones he saw everyday here in Morristown, New Jersey.
While Thomas Nast was primarily a political cartoonist, he was most proud of his popularized image of Santa Claus that he drew for the children of the world. Nast’s Christmas drawings gave him the opportunity to devote his talent to subjects very close to his heart, children and family. In his holiday drawings, the artist intimately conveyed the traditions, customs and tales of the magic and spirit of Christmas.
Macculloch Hall Historical Museum’s recent preservation of the house’s four antique chimneys this past summer inspired this exhibit of Thomas Nast’s Christmas images. In them Nast depicts Santa Claus flying by and on rooftops, going down chimneys to deliver presents to good girls and boys and illustrates Santa emerging from fireplaces to fill stockings hung by the fireplace with care. It is possible that Nast copied some of the chimneys in these images from the chimneys here at Macculloch Hall, since the artist and his family lived across the street from 1872 through 1902. For the last half of his life Nast could look out of his window at Macculloch Hall.
Thomas Nast Draws President Andrew Johnson
October 1-November 12, 2017
February 24, 2018 will mark the 150th anniversary of the impeachment proceedings for President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) by the United States House of Representatives. Johnson removed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton from office, without the permission of Congress, thus breaking the Tenure of Office Act. This was the last straw for the radical republicans who were opposed to the President’s plans for Reconstruction. Johnson himself narrowly escaped being removed from office. In May of 1868 the Senate was a single vote shy of reaching the two-thirds majority needed for a conviction, allowing Johnson to finish his term in office.
Johnson had become President in April of 1865 after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Johnson, a Democrat, was Lincoln’s choice for vice president when he ran for re-election in 1864. Johnson, a “war democrat”, was chosen over Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln’s vice president during his first term.
Though Thomas Nast was a strong Lincoln supporter, the artist was no fan of Johnson. Nast’s political cartoons of Johnson, savagely caricaturing him during this time, mark the beginning of artist’s career as a political cartoonist. The images on display are drawn for the first time in the artist’s signature caricature style.
Artist, Fireman, Music Maker: Portraits of Thomas Nast
June 11-September 17, 2017
Thomas Nast (1840-1902) is one of the most recognized names in the world of political cartoons. From his early works documenting the Civil War to his final images made in Ecuador prior to his death, Nast’s imagery illustrates his interests and world views. A devoted family man who was very close to his wife and children, Nast often incorporated portraits of his family members into his work. He also included self-portraits in his work tapping into a long tradition of artistic self-portraiture—a forerunner to today’s “selfie”.
In addition to creating his own images, Nast enjoyed being photographed. Throughout his life he commissioned photographic portraits, some formal, some whimsical. Nast’s self-portraiture demonstrates his engagement with politics and current events during the second half of the nineteenth century, as well as offering a window into his home life and personal interests, like firemen. In the images on display the artist shows himself perhaps as he saw himself. In so doing, Nast allows the viewer to get just a little closer to him.
Women Warriors on the Home Front: Dorothea Miller Post and Morristown’s Woman’s Land Army (February 5-May 1, 2017) Extended through May 25!
Inspired by the British “Land Girls”, the Woman’s Land Army (WLA) was a civilian organization created during World War I to ensure that the country had an adequate food supply. Over 20,000 women in 42 states were recruited to work on farms to replace male workers who went to war. The WLA primarily consisted of college students, teachers, secretaries, and those with seasonal jobs or occupations which allowed summer vacation. These “farmerettes” were paid equally with male farm laborers and had an eight-hour workday. The WLA did not receive government funding or assistance. Instead, it functioned with the help of non-profit organizations, universities, and colleges.
Dorothea Miller Post (1878-1947), great granddaughter of George and Louisa Macculloch, became chair of the Morris County unit of the WLA. In addition under her direction, the Garden Club of Morristown, provided moral and financial support with each member contributing five dollars to the WLA.
The work done by women of the WLA was described by a Morristown Garden Club member… “The girls who worked in the Land Army were many who knew nothing about country or farm work, but they did very good work…taking care of chickens, milking cows, and pitching hay.” Like “Rosie the Riveter” a generation later, the Land Army “farmerette” of 1917 became a wartime icon.
This exhibition features a selection of letters, ephemera, photographs from the collection of Macculloch Hall Historical Museum’s archives detailing Dorothea Miller Post’s work with the WLA and a selection of graphics made from photographs in the collection of The Morristown and Morris Township Free Public Library.
Christmas at Macculloch Hall
December 1, 2016-January 29, 2017
The Great Presidential Election Controversy of 1876: Rutherford B. Hayes versus Samuel Tilden as described by Thomas Nast
September 22-November 20, 2016
The 1876 Presidential Election was certainly one for the history books. Hard fought by Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes and Democratic candidate Samuel Tilden, the winner was not decided upon until days before the inauguration in early March of 1877 because of election irregularities in four states. Nast, who supported Hayes, participated wholeheartedly in this particular election controversy. The exhibition presented the controversy and its outcome through the vivid illustrations Nast created to keep the American public informed.
The Creative Process of Thomas Nast
June-September 18, 2016
This in-depth analysis explores how Thomas Nast (1840-1902) planned and created two of his complex illustrations: Who Goes There?—A Friend, an engraving published in Harper’s Weekly on August 27, 1870; and the considerably more lighthearted Humors of the Great National Game, an engraving published in Once a Week: An Illustrated Weekly Newspaper on July 15, 1893. The finished works were displayed together with preparatory sketches and drawings made by Nast.
“Here is the steed that saved the day…” Popular Imagery of Sheridan’s Ride
February 22-June 12, 2016
General Philip H. Sheridan’s determination to secure a Union victory at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley on October 19, 1864 was well known during the second half of the nineteenth century. Relatively short in stature, General Sheridan (1831-1888) became larger than life through popular accounts of his heroic exploits during battle astride his stallion, Rienzi. As one account reported, “On he rode, his famous warhorse covered with foam and dirt, cheered at every stop by men in whom new courage was now kindled.” The subject of “Sheridan’s Ride” became immensely popular in art and illustration.
The Battle of Cedar Creek was decisive for the Union Army. General William Tecumseh Sherman had taken Atlanta on September 2, 1864. Sheridan’s victory in the Shenandoah Valley a month later helped solidify the Union’s hold over the South and propelled President Abraham Lincoln to re-election.
Capitalizing on the sensation of Sheridan’s victory in the popular press, poet and artist Thomas Buchanan Read (1822-1872) penned Sheridan’s Ride. Often read at political rallies, this poem and innumerable images of “Sheridan’s Ride” were used by the Republican Party to inspire patriotic sentiment. Read’s stirring poetry and his famous equestrian painting of General Sheridan spurred artists like Thomas Nast (1840-1902) and James E. Kelly (1855-1933) to create inspired images of this Union Civil War hero.
W. Parsons Todd (1877-1976), the founder of Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, was deeply interested in American History. Todd focused much of his collecting on historically significant artifacts, like the works on display.
The Civil War through the Eyes of Thomas Nast
Before radio, TV, or the internet, there were the images Thomas Nast (1840-1902). Nast illustrated battles, Union and Confederate troop movements, and their activities throughout the Civil War. He also captured the poignancy of those back home, who worried about family members in combat. Nast’s illustrations were the primary source of information about the war for many people. Published in magazines like Harper’s Weekly, his work brought what was happening on the front into the homes of the American public, much the way mass media does today. Mounted to commemorate the final year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial (2011-2015), this exhibition was on view through December 23, 2015.