The Curatorial team, consisting of curators and object conservators, leads the investigation and installation of furnishings in the Mansion. We aim to show how the furnishings of a room appeared in 1799 and to do so in a dynamic way that allows visitors to understand how the people of Mount Vernon used and related to these spaces.
With each restoration project, curators develop a furnishing plan based on analysis of all the available evidence, from surviving furnishings, archaeological artifacts, and documentary and visual sources.
To support this work, we created the Washington Material Culture Database, which allows us to assemble and track all the documentary references to movable goods and building materials owned and used by the Washingtons. We can then analyze this information to understand how Mount Vernon and its interiors changed over time, quantifying the Washingtons’ consumption of goods and identifying trends in acquisition and use, as well as significant shifts in their consumer habits.
Working with conservators, curators examine original Washington-owned objects, analyze materials, and use imaging technology to see inside or below surfaces, all to understand how they were made, used, and may have appeared to the Washingtons. When an object is selected for display in the Mansion, conservators stabilize, clean, repair, and/or restore it in order to ensure its long term preservation.