Home Artifacts New Mount Vernon Exhibit Opens with Original Washington Artifacts

New Mount Vernon Exhibit Opens with Original Washington Artifacts


MOUNT VERNON, VA — Visitors to George Washington’s Mount Vernon can experience a new exhibit focusing on the stories of people who contributed to the estate’s history. “Mount Vernon: The Story of an American Icon” opened Saturday, featuring original items from the home of George and Martha Washington.

The permanent exhibit not only tells the stories of George and Martha Washington, but also stories of people enslaved at Mount Vernon, previous generations of Washingtons, and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which has owned and preserved the estate since 1860. According to a new release, this is the largest reunion of original Mount Vernon artifacts since the dispersal of the estates of George and Martha Washington in 1802.

“The estate’s history comes alive with this addition to the Mount Vernon Museum,” said Douglas Bradburn, President and CEO of Mount Vernon. “We’ve taken the museum to the next level by sharing the full story of Mount Vernon, going beyond the story of America’s first president, George Washington. The passionate and talented team of experts and historians of Mount Vernon has assembled a best-of-class exhibit on American history, fine and decorative arts, architecture and archaeology.”

The exhibit adds new items to Mount Vernon’s collection, such as George Washington’s swivel desk chair, Martha Washington’s diamond-set pocket watch, Nelly Custis’ harpsichord and stone tools dating back to his time. 10,000 years ago. Some Martha Washington items were acquired from her descendants in 2020 by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Visitors can use interactive touch screens for hands-on learning about Mount Vernon artifacts and history.

The exhibit’s galleries feature people who have impacted the estate, from the Washington and Custis families, to enslaved and hired laborers, notable visitors and board members of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Mount Vernon also has the original Washington and Custis family portraits on loan from Washington and Lee University. This includes the first known portrait of George Washington, made by Charles Willson Peale in 1772 when Washington was 40 years old.

“The Making Mount Vernon: The Work of Many Hands” portion of the exhibit examines the changing landscape of Mount Vernon. The story spans from 10,000 years ago, when seasonal Native settlements existed, to John Washington’s 1674 land patent, to George Washington’s renovation of the house and grounds.

The part “The Treasured Possessions: The Material World of Mount Vernon” is centered on the original objects belonging to George and Martha Washington. This includes family portraits, musical instruments, porcelain punch bowls, garnet jewelry and a toddler teething rattle. Visitors will learn about Washington’s values ​​and styles through artifacts as well as the history of slavery at Mount Vernon. The exhibit includes archaeological artifacts from a slave quarter to reveal which items were valuable to slaves.

“Saving Mount Vernon: The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union,” examines Mount Vernon’s preservation work. Unlike many historic landmarks in the area, Mount Vernon is not owned or funded by the federal, state, or local government. The effort to preserve Mount Vernon began with the 1850s fundraising campaign of Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association founder Ann Pamela Cunningham. The organization raised $200,000 to purchase the estate in 1860. The exhibit highlights other women who worked to preserve Mount Vernon.

Mount Vernon is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon has other upcoming spring events including the George Washington Whiskey Tasting, Mount Vernon Historic Plants and Gardens Sale, Revolutionary War Weekend and Spring Wine Festival and Tour of the sunset.