Archive for September 28th, 2017

h1

Sarah Orne Jewett House

September 28, 2017

Art of Dining exhibition

This fall, Julia Einstein, Education Program Coordinator for Historic New England, prepared an educational component, to be on view in the Art of Dining exhibition at the Sarah Orne Jewett House Visitor Center in South Berwick. There are three parts, a participatory family exhibit, a take-away gallery card, and an interactive learning experience for the Education Space in the Sarah Orne Jewett House. The objective is to engage the family audience and to connect the exhibition with a visit to the Sarah Orne Jewett House. In the exhibit, a temporary wall, painted with magnetic paint, invites the family visitor to “Set the Table!” as they mix and match table linens, plates, cups and silver from the collection in the Sarah Orne Jewett House to design a table-scape. And, to take a photo and send it us to be part of our community table on social media.

Oversized exhibit text invites families with kids of all ages to set the table with a lovely passage from Sarah Orne Jewett’s novel for children, Betty Leicester, published in 1889. “To lay the table and step lightly, “she answered, shaking with laughter. And Betty followed her directions until the square dinner table stood in the middle of the floor, covered with a nice homespun linen cloth of which the history had to be told.”  Parents, and children who are able to read, are introduced to the activity with a bit of introduction, “19th century children were expected to obey the same table rules as adults. Table manners were taught as primary lessons to transform boys into young gentleman and girls into ladies. Today, be inspired by history to set your place at the table.”

The take-away gallery card guides family visitors to look for ideas and concepts behind the art on view, and to use on their tour of the Sarah Orne Jewett House. Using the card upon entering The Art of Dining, they are directed to “Look for a Happy Birthday party, a picnic, and take-out food & imagine yourself at the tables. Notice the make-believe in painted, sculpted, and woven objects.” Most fun is when the card travels with families as they cross the lawn and enter the house museum.  In their visit, they are guided to look for tabletops with books, photographs, natural objects, and to wonder how each was collected, and loved by Sarah Orne Jewett.  When one reads the text on the card aloud in the dining room, it instructs to “Imagine a family dinner party in this grand old house and all the table talk that made its way into the stories of Sarah Orne Jewett.”

At the end of their tour of the Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum, in the Education Space, an inter-activity table is set for “hands-on” learning and to connect the exhibition with their visit as a set of directions encourage families to “be inspired by the hand painted teacup by artist and poet Celia Thaxter to create your own designs and set the table for tea,” with step by step directions on how to create a set of paper tea cups.

Perhaps the most exciting part—school groups will be able to have this experience included in the elementary school program at the site! The program, Amongst Friends: Sarah Orne Jewett and Her World, focuses on Jewett’s experiences in South Berwick and around the world through her writing and the artistic endeavors of her wide circle of friends.

The Art of Dining is on view at the Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum and Visitor Center in South Berwick through February 17, 2018. This exhibition presents installations by regional artists Suzanne Pretty, Julie K. Gray, Adriane Herman, Jo Hatlevig, Tinka Pritchett, Diane Stradling, Rachel Eastman, John David O’Shaughnessy, and Mickey McGarrity. The educational installation, Set the Table, was funded in part by the Sam L. Cohen Foundation. For more info, call 207 384 2454 x2 or email JEinstein@HistoricNewEngland.org

%d bloggers like this: