Lecture: The Colonial Revival as Collective Memory and Consumer
Date: February 22, 2015
Time: 3:00 pm
Location: Litchfield History Museum
Age(s): All
Fee: Free for members; $5 for non-members
Registration: Yes, email registration@litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org
Description: Join us for this lecture by Thomas Denenberg, director of the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT. The development of a culture of consumption in the decades that bracketed the turn of the twentieth century created unprecedented opportunity for the dissemination of images, objects, and texts that engendered historical consciousness in the United States. Antiquarian activities, the province of social outliers, the wealthy, or the creative such as the painter Edward Lamson Henry (1841-1919), became normative behavior in the new middle-class America. Gathering, collecting, and sorting historical material culture, once an end unto itself in the nineteenth century, gave way to the creation of a widespread aesthetic that prized idealized “native” forms. Entrepreneurial individuals, including the minister-turned antimodern colporteur Wallace Nutting (1861-1941), employed the very modern platforms of advertising, publishing, department stores, and mail order merchandising to encourage and fulfill middle-class desires for objects and myths that answered contemporary social needs in an era of rapid economic and geographic change. Often termed “the” Colonial Revival—an aesthetic assumed to be, monolithic, sui generis, and whole upon arrival, this illustrated lecture will look at the phenomenon as a complex and carefully constructed collective memory that matured over time.