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.
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.