Director of Communications
MOUNT VERNON, VA – George Washington’s Mount Vernon will open a new exhibition that shares the personal stories of the enslaved people who lived and worked at Mount Vernon and exploring the first president’s evolving views on slavery. Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon opens October 1, 2016, with a special ceremony at 9:30 a.m. in the Donald W. Reynolds Museum & Education Center. Following the grand opening, guests are invited to take part in Mount Vernon's annual Slave Memorial Commemoration Ceremony at 11 a.m. featuring special musical performances and keynote remarks from Pulitzer Prize-winner Annette Gordon-Reed. The opening events conclude with a 12:30 p.m. wreathlaying ceremony at the Slave Memorial site.
“This exhibition has been literally years in the making,” said Mount Vernon president Curt Viebranz. “The meticulous records kept by George Washington and his farm managers coupled with extensive research undertaken by Mount Vernon staff and other scholars allows us to tell a rich story of the slaves that lived and worked at Mount Vernon. These stories are deeply personal and also shed light on Washington's evolving views on slavery. We look forward to sharing this narrative with visitors to Mount Vernon as well as through digital outreach.”
Through archaeological discoveries, household furnishings, works of art, documents, and interactive displays, this exhibition, the largest temporary exhibition ever undertaken at Mount Vernon, spans 4,400 square feet throughout all seven galleries of Mount Vernon’s Donald W. Reynolds Museum. It demonstrates how closely intertwined the lives of the Washingtons were with those of the enslaved. Nineteen enslaved individuals are featured throughout the exhibit, represented with life-size silhouettes and interactive touchscreens providing biographical details.
More than 150 artifacts will be on view—seeds and animal bones, ceramic fragments and metal buttons unearthed from archaeological excavations around the estate, as well as fine tablewares and furniture from the Washington household providing insights into the enslaved community’s daily lives and work.
Through this new exhibition, guests will gain a better understanding of Washington’s changing views towards slavery, culminating in his landmark decision to include in his will a provision freeing the slaves that he owned. Washington’s writings reveal how he grappled with the issue of slavery over the course of his life.
The Lives Bound Together exhibition was made possible by four major supporters: Ambassador and Mrs. Nicholas F. Taubman, Nimick Forbesway Foundation, Dr. Scholl Foundation, and an anonymous donor. Many other foundations and individuals also supported the effort.
This exhibition will remain on view through late 2018. For more information, please visit: www.mountvernon.org/livesboundtogether.