Sunday, 27 October 2013

The American Museum in Bath

There was so much to see, much too much for a single visit, so we have decided to return again in 2014 for another look!  The museum covers three floors, and starting in the basement, you have a chance to read all the facts, figures and dates of  the most significant happenings that shaped modern America.  We were totally bemused with so much information, although a guide told us, that the museum had recently simplified all the details!   History must always start from around the year "dot," but in one visit, there was just too much to take in!

I was happy to move into the room settings on the second floor, each displaying furniture and artifacts from a particular period in time.   On the right is the American/ Dutch room, which is really an American/Deutsch room, the word Deutsch having been corrupted.  German settlers arrived in America in the 18th century, and bought their culture and artifacts with them.   What a journey these early immigrants must have had, travelling over land and hostile sea, in search of a  new life. Migration is as old as humanity itself,  people will always seek a better life for themselves and their families.

 The original interior of a 17th century Massachusetts house, which was shipped to Britain, and reconstructed in the Museum.

The American Museum in Bath was opened to the public in 1961, the achievement of four colleagues, a transatlantic alliance between two American collectors, a British born antiques dealer and a local furniture restorer from nearby Freshford Manor.  A friend of the group became the first Director of the Museum.   The group had considered establishing a museum early in 1956, after visiting several historic houses and "living history" museums in the US.

Collecting began in earnest in 1958, with each piece intended for display,  testifying to the artistry of all Americans, and how the people had lived in the past.  Panelling and floors were also shipped over to Britain, enabling period rooms from demolished buildings in American to be reconstructed within the spacious interiors of "Claverton Manor."   Many decades on, The American Museum in Britain remains the only museum outside the US to showcase the decorative arts of America.

 The mind boggling history of the events leading to American independance, and the civil war that eventually united the country.

 A lesson on how to be "quick on the draw."

Little girl´s bedroom, complete with a doll´s bed at the foot of her bed.

This room contained painted wooden furniture, a style of decoration that became so popular here a few years ago.  The quilt is hand stitched, as are the many on display in the Quilt Room in the museum.   You could spend a morning alone looking at the amazing designs and stitch work that produced these bed covers.

The museum cafe is housed in the former "Orangery," where we enjoyed a good cup of English tea and pieces of cake.   A good time was had by all three of us!

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