The Houdon Bust Gallery features Mount Vernon’s most prized artifact, Jean-Antoine Houdon’s terra cotta bust of George Washington. This remarkable sculpture – the most accurate likeness of Washington ever created – is installed at Washington’s height to give visitors an indication of how he towered over most of his contemporaries.
The gallery features extraordinary Washington objects from England, Europe, China, and America that reflect the man and his love of beauty, his refined taste, his status within his world, and his purchasing power. Visitors will feel as if they are present in the dining room of the presidential residence in Philadelphia, at one of the dinners that Washington held every Thursday afternoon, when Congressmen and other government officials were invited to dine with the President.
Focusing on the more public persona of George Washington, this gallery features artifacts relating to his military career and presidency. Washington’s swords, silver camp cups, and a pair of silver spurs he gave to a soldier at Valley Forge so that he could ride to Boston for much-needed supplies are displayed in addition to a variety of objects pertaining to Washington's inauguration.
In this gallery visitors get a glimpse of the Washingtons’ daily lives, whether at Mount Vernon or on the road. Washington’s ducking gun, hunting horn, riding crop, and fishing tackle box showcase domestic life while “life on the road” is represented by Washington’s Revolutionary War folding camp bed along with his trunk, razor, telescope, and saddlebag.
The cases in this gallery present personal objects used and worn by George and Martha Washington, their children, and grandchildren. Objects in the gallery range from George Washington’s shoe and knee buckles to Martha Washington’s earrings and necklaces.
Washington’s insatiable hunger for knowledge, his keen curiosity, and his life-long desire to better understand the world around him, is shown through manuscripts, maps, prints, and books. These rare and important objects address broader topics such as our country’s founding documents, slavery, and Washington’s Last Will and Testament. This gallery has the tranquil feel of an elegant library and includes Washington’s recently conserved globe, spectacles, inkstand, and one of his Argand lamps.