Have you taken the time to visit a museum in your area yet this summer? Today my mother and I went to the Baldwin Reynolds House Museum in Meadville, PA. It's a wonderful place to see. The house itself is magnificent and such a "fish out of water" in northwestern Pennsylvania, so to speak.
The house is a circa 1840's Southern style plantation home with a Victorian mansard roof (added later) and an amazing solarium on the side of the house. A second floor wrap around veranda adds to the Southern feel. The house was built by Supreme Court Justice Henry Baldwin, later purchased by his wife's nephew, William Reynolds. William Reynolds' son, John E., inherited the house. John E.'s widow, Katherine lived in the house until the 1960's. It was later purchased by the Crawford County Historical Society and turned into a House Museum.
I have always had a special place in my heart for this museum. I worked there through college as a curatorial assistant. Later I ran the house for a little while until they hired a new curator (which wasn't me, sadly). Currently the museum has a fantastic director, Josh Sherretts. Josh has done wonders with the displays and the tour information. I was very impressed. And oh so pleased to see the house so alive.
Our main purpose for visiting the house today was to see the museum quilt display (which is over this weekend, unfortunately). It included several gorgeous Victorian crazy quilts in the downstairs parlors as well as some Civil War era quilts in the bedrooms upstairs. Oh, did I mention the log cabin quilts?
It was lovely to get lost in history this afternoon. Josh has set up the exhibits so cleverly -- a bottle of wine and two glasses on an occasional table.....a pair of spectacles on an open book next to a comfy uphostered chair. These little touches made it seem like someone had just left the room right before we walked into it!
If you haven't visited the local museums in your area, you really should. Most of them have quilt and textile collections which are truly a treat for quilters to see. Not to mention the art, the furniture, the architecture....
It's important now more than ever to support your local museums due to so many funding cuts at the local, state, and federal levels. The Baldwin Reynolds house received about 25% of the funding it used to. Your support could mean the difference between staying open or closing the museum. So get out there and keep history alive in your community! You know, local museums are oftem desperately in need of dedicated volunteers as well, so get involved!
Below,enjoy some photos from our trip to the museum. Please note that I did not use flash when photographing because flash photography is damaging to textiles, etc.