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Hoecakes & Hospitality: Cooking with Martha Washington
February 18, 2012 through August 11, 2013
George and Martha Washington welcomed thousands of guests to Mount Vernon in the more than forty years that they lived here. Most of their visitors stayed for meals, enjoying the Washingtons’ famous hospitality and the plentiful food they provided. As mistress of America’s most visited private home, Martha Washington orchestrated the creation of an array of dishes that teased the nose and tempted the taste buds. How did she manage to feed so many in a world without refrigerators, microwaves or running water?
We invite you to step behind-the-scenes to explore how foods were prepared and presented at Mount Vernon. Before appearing in the dining rooms, crispy hoecakes, smoked hams, frozen ice creams, and other foods required the work of gardeners, housekeepers, enslaved cooks, butlers, and waiters—all under the careful supervision of Martha Washington, early America’s premier hostess. Follow food from farm or wharf to kitchen hearth to dinner plate. See recipes and cookbooks that Mrs. Washington treasured, pots that simmered in her kitchen, and fine tablewares that made Mount Vernon’s dining rooms fit for a President.
This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of:
• The Life Guard Society of Historic Mount Vernon
• Dr. Scholl Foundation
• Kathryn C. Vecellio
• Design Cuisine
• and other generous benefactors
Mount Vernon’s long awaited definitive entertaining and recipe book combines vivid photography and engaging essays to shed fresh light on the daily lives of George and Martha Washington, on their ceaseless stream of household guests and those who served them, and on the ways food and drink reflected the culture of 18th century America. Dining with the Washingtons is available for purchase at the Mount Vernon Gift Shop or online.
Mount Vernon in Miniature
A fitting tribute to George Washington's ambitious vision for his home at Mount Vernon, this extraordinary miniature represents the Mansion as it looked in 1799, the year of his death. Mount Vernon in Miniature was created over a period of five years by a group of talented and patriotic miniaturists, based in Washington State, as a special gift to the nation. They worked with scores of modern artisans and craftsmen from around the world, many of whom donated their services.
Based on an extensive room by room inventory of the Mansion after Washington’s death in 1799, Mount Vernon in Miniature measures ten feet long, more than eight feet high, and approximately six feet wide. It duplicates the original building at a scale of one inch to one foot, and is in working order down to the last detail. The miniature includes state-of-the-art mechanical features that raise and lower two of the facades and the roof, enabling visitors to see inside each and every room—even those on the Mansion's third floor, which is rarely open to the public. Weighing more than 1,400 pounds, it is one of the heaviest and most complex miniatures ever made, and took over 4,500 hours to create. Virtually every aspect of the mini-Mansion is in working order: door knobs on the eight exterior and 36 interior doors turn, the latches latch, the 58 windows open and close, the candles and 13 fireplaces come to life, the door knocker knocks, and the drawers of the furniture open. Every feature from the rusticated siding to the handsome carved mantels is true to Washington's original designs.
Each of the 22 rooms, painted to match the colors on the original Mansion walls, is authentically fitted with copies of the stylish American, French, English, and Chinese furnishings acquired by Washington. There are more than 110 individual pieces of seating furniture in the miniature including a sofa, a fan chair, an easy chair, a Louis XVI chair, Chippendale and Federal style chairs, ladderback chairs, and Windsor chairs on the Piazza.
Mount Vernon in Miniature is made possible through the generous support of:
and with the additional generous sponsorship of:
Mr. and Mrs. Clarence M. Bishop - The Passage
Mrs. Jacqueline McMahan - The Little Parlor
Mrs. Jean Sprague - The West Parlor
Dr. and Mrs. Charles Wheeler III - The Downstairs Bedroom
Mrs. Patricia Olson - The Small Dining Room
The Vice Regents of Mount Vernon - The Large Dining Room
Mrs. Patty Clake - The Blue Bedroom
Mrs. Rosalie Whyel - Washington's Study
Mrs. Betty Wisdom - The Pantry
Mr. and Mrs. Donald J. Nalty - The Piazza
Ms. Sarah Salisbury - The Lafayette Bedroom
Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Seaman - The Hall Bedroom
Mrs. W. Temple Webber, Jr. - The Yellow Bedroom
Mrs. Tyler R. Cain - The Nelly Custis Bedroom
Mr. and Mrs. James E. Allison - The Washingtons’ Bedroom
Mrs. Nelson T. Shields III - Martha Washington’s Garret Room
and with support from:
Dr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Griffin
Mrs. Jennifer Herrmann
Bringing Them Home: 150 Years of Restoring the Washington Collection
February 13, 2010 – January 8, 2012
This exhibition celebrates Mount Vernon’s remarkable 150-year pursuit of original Washington artifacts. The majority of objects and documents on display are new acquisitions and loans that honor this distinguished anniversary. Recently returned items include fine and decorative arts, books, and manuscripts. These items enrich our understanding of the Washingtons’ daily lives at Mount Vernon. They also speak of the extraordinary dedication of the Ladies’ Association, Washington family descendants, and the public to uphold the legacy of George Washington.
This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of:
George Washington and His Generals
February 21, 2009 – January 10, 2010
On June 15, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned George Washington as commander in chief of the Continental Army. Over the next eight years, eighty-one men—drawn from all thirteen colonies and nine different lands—served under him as major generals and brigadier generals. About the only thing they had in common was their leader. Washington skillfully commanded his officers—some who were imposed upon him, some chosen by him, and others fresh from Europe—to forge an army out of ill-equipped and untrained volunteers. Together with these officers, he led that army to victory against one of the best-disciplined military forces the world has ever seen.
In 2009, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association and The Society of the Cincinnati co-sponsored a special exhibition dedicated to expanding popular understanding of, and appreciation for, Washington and his generals. Over 120 paintings, prints, personal artifacts, and manuscripts associated with the generals of the Continental and French armies were featured. Divided into nine sections, these objects—drawn from the collections of Mount Vernon, the Society, and almost 40 of the nation’s foremost fine arts museums, historical societies, and private collections—offered visitors an unprecedented look at Washington’s leadership and character as commander in chief by bringing to life the relationships that formed between him and his generals as they fought for our nation’s freedom.
This exhibition was made possible through the sponsorship of:
The Society of the Cincinnati
and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association
and the generous support of:
Setting the President’s Table: American Presidential China from the Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
February 16, 2008 – January 21, 2009
This exhibition showcased a sampling of porcelains from the McNeil Americana Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. All were used by American presidents as they entertained executive residence guests during their respective administrations. Most were used on the presidential dining table. The porcelains transitioned from direct European imports by early presidents to an increasing focus on American symbolism in decoration—and eventually—American-made porcelains. As times and technology changed, a select few were designed for use aboard presidential boats and planes. All provided a window into the importance and type of entertaining that has defined the presidency since George Washington took office over two hundred years ago.
This exhibition was co-organized by:
George Washington's Mount Vernon
and the Philadelphia Museum of Art
and was made possible through the support of:
A Son and his Adoptive Father: The Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington
The major commemoration in the United States of the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de Lafayette inaugurated Mount Vernon’s F. M. Kirby Foundation Gallery for changing exhibitions. A Son and his Adoptive Father: The Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington, organized in partnership with Lafayette College, was comprised of more than 125 artifacts drawn from some twenty museums and private collections. Portraits of Washington and Lafayette, ceramics, silver, glass, weapons, jewelry, textiles, memorabilia, letters and other documents were organized into three chronological sections that traced Lafayette’s impact on America and his relationship with the Washington family.
This exhibition was made possible by:
August 27 through October 28, 2007
LAFAYETTE COLLEGE ART GALLERY
Williams Center for the Arts, Lafayette College
November 13, 2007 through August 10, 2008
THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY
New York, New York