New Exhibit at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum: Relics to Removed
Highlights 100th Anniversary of The Met Purchasing of the Gadsby’s Ballroom
Many are familiar with the historic ballroom at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, yet the woodwork is a copy; the original is located at Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York City. On view May 15 through Labor Day weekend, this exhibit explores the removal of the historic ballroom and places this decision into a national context. The community will have the opportunity to connect with the woodwork through recreated, touchable pieces and an invitation to sketch the architecture.
This exhibit coincides with Centennial of the Everyday, an exhibit of Time & Place, an initiative of the Alexandria Office of the Arts’ public art program, in partnership with the Office of Historic Alexandria. The goal of this compelling project is to foster exploration and dialogue about our region’s history and its continued reverberations within our community today. In this inaugural year, three artists from our region—Sheldon Scott, Stewart Watson and Lauren Frances Adams—used research-based practices and worked in a variety of media to create thought-provoking temporary works that are inspired by the storied past of Gadsby’s Tavern.
Both exhibits are open during regular museum hours and is included with regular admission.
As America emerged as a nation in the late 18th and early 19th century, Gadsby’s Tavern was the center of social and political life in Alexandria as well as the new Federal City of Washington. The tavern served as the premier gathering place for residents – including George Washington – and visitors to eat, drink, learn, and influence history. Tavern keepers John Wise and John Gadsby hosted balls, performances, and meetings, and their accommodations were known as the best by travelers near and far. Today, the tavern continues the tradition of opening its doors to the community through a variety of special events.
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum is located at 134 North Royal Street in the heart of Old Town Alexandria and is owned and operated by the City of Alexandria. For more information, please call 703.746.4242 or visit www.gadsbystavern.org.
Images from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York City.
The Met describes the Gadsby Tavern ballroom as follows:
The rich woodwork from the ballroom of Gadsby’s Tavern reflects the continuation of the Georgian decorative tradition into the early Federal period. Constructed in 1792–93, the ballroom originally stood on the second floor of the Federal-style City Tavern and Hotel. It was one of the most refined public spaces in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1798 and 1799, George Washington celebrated his birthnight balls at the tavern. During his 1824–25 tour of the United States, the marquis de Lafayette spent several days there.
Tavern ballrooms like the one at Gadsby’s were multipurpose, flexible spaces that received a great deal of wear. Often the most elegant room in an establishment, they played host to balls, concerts, lectures, club meetings, and other large gatherings.
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