The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, in Williamsburg, Virginia, is the world’s oldest continually-operated museum for the exhibition of American folk art. The museum has been collecting and exhibiting folk art since it opened in 1957 and now holds over 7,000 pieces of folk art.
On our last visit to Williamsburg, we were lucky to be able to view their dollhouse collection. The dollhouses ranged from a dollhouse constructed from a wooden crate and filled with handmade furniture to an elaborate, and huge, dollhouse White House. The dollhouses were made to be played with. There’s a little farm, complete with animals and fences, and a wonderful cardboard castle.
While the White House was quite impressive, I was much more taken with the more “play friendly” pieces. They were designed to be played with, not as a display piece. If I were a child, I’d want something I could actually touch rather than just look at.
The museum is full of wonderful works of art. We’ve been there several times and there’s always things we haven’t seen before. If you visit Williamsburg, I highly recommend a visit to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. You won’t regret it.
This whimsical work of art one of the many pieces of folk art on exhibit at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Edgar A. McKillop (1879-1950) was a blacksmith from Balfour, North Carolina who began his art career when a neighbor offered him four black walnut trees in exchange for removing the trees from the neighbor’s property. McKillop used the wood to create hand carved sculptures as well as practical items such as furniture and kitchen utensils.
The hippocerous is one of his largest works. Created in the 1920s, the piece is actually a hand cranked phonograph. McKillop carved the cabinet from walnut and created a fantastical beast with characteristics of the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus. It looks like a creature that would have populated the pages of Where the Wild Things Are.
I find it interesting how many folk artists integrated technology into their otherwise rustic art. In this case, McKillop used the work as a cabinet for a hand cranked phonograph. The hippocerous doesn’t simply hold the phonograph. When a record is played, the sound comes from its mouth. But wait, that’s not all. As the record plays, the beast’s tongue wags back and forth with the music. It’s a wonderful and whimsical work of art.
Colonial Williamsburg is one of our favorite places to visit. It’s an incredibly beautiful and interesting place. We love to stay in one of the taverns of colonial houses. A couple years ago we went to Williamsburg at the end of February and stayed at the Market Square Tavern, just off Market Square. The Market Square Tavern was home to Thomas Jefferson while he studied law with George Wythe. This was the second time we stayed at the tavern and this time we opted for the only room with a fireplace.
We had a light snow the first night but not enough to affect anything. The second night we got about six inches of snow and Williamsburg officially closed due to the winter weather. Despite the closure of all the exhibits we enjoyed the beauty of Williamsburg in the snow. Colonial Williamsburg was great during the closure. We were offered a room upgrade to Williamsburg Inn, which we declined. And that evening an employee stopped in to start the fire in the fireplace. Here’s a couple photos of Williamsburg in the snow.