June 17, 2015

Nine Objects That Tell Stories at National Trust Historic Sites

  • By: Priya Chhaya

Take a look around you. Pick up the first object you see. What is it? What can it be used for? When was it created? Does it have personal meaning to you, or is it an everyday object that serves an important function?

These are just a few of the questions historians ask of every piece of their collection. Individually these objects tell a specific segment of a story; collectively they illustrate a life. Whether the object is a sculpture or a slave brand, the answers they give links the past with the present, providing connective tissue between the visitor and the people who lived and worked at that historic site.

A Praxinoscope (a successor to the zoetrope) at Monterey State Historic Park (Cooper Molera).

Where National Trust staff from our 27 historic sites recently took a look at four different pieces of art, this week we turn our attention to three-dimensional objects at Montpelier, President Lincoln’s Cottage, President Woodrow Wilson’s House, Acoma Sky City, Chesterwood, Monterey State Historic Park (Cooper Molera), Villa Finale, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and Drayton Hall. Where the paintings last week were objects we engaged with only through sight, the set of objects in our next video take us a step further.

Do you have a particular object you love at your favorite historic site?

While her day job is the associate director of content at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Priya spends other waking moments musing, writing, and learning about how the public engages and embraces history.


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