If you visit Mount Vernon today, you will find the Blue Room door closed once again. Behind the door, Collections Management and Curatorial staff have begun the installation process of the room. This means that we are carefully moving in and arranging all of the objects which will furnish the newly restored room.
The Curatorial staff have extensively researched and selected all of the objects for exhibition. You can read more about some of these objects in our previous and upcoming blog entries. The Curatorial staff also investigated the likely positioning of these furnishings in the room during the Washingtons’ time.
With this research in hand, the job of physically handling and moving the objects comes next. The objects selected for furnishing this room are comprised of many different materials—wood, glass, ceramics, textiles, and framed prints—and are of various shapes and sizes. Collections Management staff take great care in preparing and packing each object for transport to the Mansion and then upstairs into the Blue Room, where each object is then placed in its display arrangement.
This week, the installation process began with the reproduction bed, the focal point of the Blue Room. The bedstead and drapery arrived as a van full of multiple pieces: posts, rails, headboard, cornice pieces, compass rod sections, tester, curtains, headcloth, valances, and quilt, in addition to the bedding. We moved all of the pieces of the bed in the room and assembled them in place.
Once the frame was set, we laced the sacking bottom, added mattresses and pillows, and dressed it with its reproduction blue and white textiles.
In the coming weeks, we will install all of the other objects in the room, including a looking glass and dressing table, chairs, and framed prints.
With the Architecture team’s thorough documentary and physical research of the room, they were able to return the room closer to its architectural appearance in 1799. Now as we install the Blue Room’s furnishings, Curatorial and Collections staff are bringing the room to life in the spirit of what George Washington, his family, and his guests would have seen. Preserving these tangible connections with George Washington and his life here at Mount Vernon is one of the most rewarding parts of our job. It is exciting to see the culmination of the hard work of many people as all aspects of the Blue Room restoration project are now coming together.
As we continue to prepare for the opening of the newly-restored Blue Room in early October, stay tuned for more entries on the furnishings that we are working to install!