Monday, May 22, 2017

Exhibit Prep, Behind the Scenes

We get a lot of questions about the preparation that goes into an exhibition installation, so today we thought we would share the fabrication planning.

Our museum specialists processes artifact lists and exhibit panel mock ups. These list
determine which artifacts need to pulled and prepped for exhibit.

This effort has involved a team of talented designers, fabricators, researchers, donors, and partners, but so much of the critical work behind the scenes has been the labor of Museum Specialist, Joni Rowe. Every artifact, manuscript, image, and catalog number has been carefully pulled, reviewed, and prepared by Joni, no small feat considering gallery projects can stay active for over a decade, start to finish.

Artifacts are pulled and checked against several exhibit inventory lists, then the fabrication team begins measuring and photographing in preparation for custom mount and case building. At this stage, our researcher and text editor is also double checking catalog numbers and artifact descriptions in line with our pull lists.

Artifacts waiting  in queue. 

Measuring and recording three dimensional artifacts.

The fabrication team uses precise instruments to measure each artifact's dimensions. Photos are taken for both reference and for installation purposes.

Photographing flat files and paintings. Many of these images will be reproduced or 
used as wall panels.


Interested in the artifacts we examined during this session?

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Music 101: New Orleans Jazz Returns to Morristown

Free Performances at Morristown National Historical Park

7 pm, Friday, June 2, 2017 at Washington’s Headquarters Museum
1 pm and 2:30 pm, Sunday, June 4, 2017 outside Jockey Hollow Visitor Center

Morristown, NJ – Morristown National Historical Park (NHP) continues its celebration of the 101st year of the National Park Service's history by welcoming back the Arrowhead Jazz Band from New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Free programs will be presented at 7 pm, on Friday, June 2nd at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum (30 Washington Place, Morristown, New Jersey); and at 1 pm and 2:30 pm, on Sunday, June 4th outside the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center (580- 600 Tempe Wick Road, Morristown, New Jersey).

Jazz originated as a style of music native to America, and Morristown NHP is proud to provide this “Music 101” opportunity for all to connect to our common heritage. The Arrowhead Jazz Band is comprised of active, retired, and former Park Rangers as well as Park Volunteers and Interns. The band performs Traditional New Orleans Jazz and selections from the Great American Songbook. They have recorded five CDs with Park Rangers and local New Orleans musicians.


The mission of the Arrowhead Jazz Band is to:

Enhance opportunities for visitors to experience and appreciate the sights and sounds of early jazz throughout the nation; Interpret the origins, history, and progression of jazz ; and Promote and assist the education of students in various forms of jazz in order to perpetuate its continued evolution as a true American art form.



Friday, May 5, 2017

Farewell to Friend and Dedicated VIP

Stephen pictured here in late February, after receiving
Centennial Challenge Award.

When you walk around Morristown NHP, almost everything you see was somehow enhanced by volunteer Stephen Wilder; a man of boundless energy and enthusiasm.

If he wasn’t leading tours at the Ford Mansion, he was chopping fire wood for the Wick House. When not helping the Interpretative staff, he would be on the trails assisting our Law Enforcement staff. He spent countless hours on our 20 plus mile trails, cutting barberry, installing waterbars to protect our trails from erosion, removing downed trees, blazing trails. 

His enthusiasm for the preservation of the park was contagious. During the winter months, Steve volunteered with the Cultural Resource staff assisting with research of our collection, such as a manuscript on Benedict Arnold. Steve also assisted our Natural Resource staff this past autumn by clearing the walking paths for our bird study volunteers.  Steve impacted the Wick garden, working with our Maintenance staff replacing the boards around the garden beds without which there may not have been a garden season. He helped train new staff and volunteers. He assisted with corporate volunteer projects and a variety of special events, including presenting an his research at an interpretative event.The list goes on. To list all the projects Steve accomplished for the park is nearly impossible, as they are too numerous. These are but a sample of his dedication to the National Park Service.

Steve began volunteering circa 2006. Through the years he provided 3,112 hours of service. He achieved his Master Volunteer Ranger status, repeatedly earned the Inter Agency Free Volunteer Pass, was a certified NPS Chainsaw Operator, and received the 2016 Centennial Challenge Award.

Stephen passed away May 4, 2017 his presence will be sadly missed and will always be remembered by the staff and volunteers of Morristown National Historical Park.

This tribute by Morristown Volunteer Coordinator, Pamela Dobben. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Audubon: The Man Behind The Birds

When you hear the name Audubon most people think of the Audubon Society or they respond with “He’s that bird guy right?” But Audubon was much more than that. The story of Audubon is a story that most of us know little to nothing about, including me up until recently, but his story is a story we should all hear. John James Audubon, an American Ornithologist, Artist, and Naturalist, was born Jean Rabin in Les Cayes, which is now Haiti on April 26th, 1785. He was the illegitimate son of French plantation owner Captain Jean Audubon and his Creole servant Jeanne Rabin. His father sent him to France to live with his wife shortly after Audubon’s birth mother died; Audubon changed his name to Jean-Jaques Fougere during this time. While in France Audubon developed a love for the outdoors and a talent for painting, but his time in France would be cut short.  To avoid being conscripted into Napoleon’s Army in 1803, Audubon’s father sent him to his estate in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania where he would oversee mining operations. It was on this voyage to America that the 18 year old changed his name to John James Audubon.  Audubon met his wife to be, Lucy Bakewell, in 1804 shortly after arriving at Mill Grove.

Lucy Blackwell
Lucy Bakewell came from a wealthy English family who immigrated to America in 1801. Lucy’s family home, Fatland Ford, was located next to Mill Grove which is how the two met. Bakewell and Audubon would spend all day together, Bakewell would teach him English, he would teach her how to paint.  The two got married in 1808 and started a family shortly after. Following the failure of the mine at Mill Grove, Audubon moved to Louisville, Kentucky, opening a general store. Poor business prospects forced Audubon and his family to move to Henderson, Kentucky. During his time in Kentucky, Audubon traveled and hunted, becoming closer to nature. The couple also had three children; however two of them died very young. With this tragedy on top of a failing business, Audubon was at the bottom of the barrel, he even ended up in jail for unpaid debts. In 1820 the Audubon’s left Kentucky and moved to New Orleans where they survived off of Lucy’s Governess income. This income was supplied by teaching classes for young ladies. These classes would cover not only basic education but also music, sewing, social conduct, swimming, and horseback riding. This was an incredible achievement for Lucy, given the time, and Audubon was grateful because this gave him time to travel and focus on his writing and painting without having to worry about his family. However he was not succeeding like he planned. In 1826, after rejection in America, Audubon went to the United Kingdom to look for a publisher, for his ornithological works. He exhibited his work in both Scotland and England, where the public was amazed by his drawings of the American Frontier, along with the tales he told them. The success of these exhibits led to the publication of his best known book, Birds of America; but this wasn’t a one man job. During one of his visits back to America in 1831, Audubon accidentally ran into Reverend John Bachman while soliciting subscriptions for his new book. What’s funny about all this is that Bachman and Audubon had been communicating through letter prior to this meeting. 

The American Bison
Reverend John Bachman moved to South Carolina January 10th, 1815 at the age of 25 from Duchess County, New York with Tuberculosis. His physicians told him to seek a warmer climate, which was the only remedy for Tuberculosis at the time. Bachman chose Charleston because it was home of the largest Lutheran church in the region. Bachman wasn’t like most Reverends at the time; he had a strong background in science and nature, which is why Audubon wanted to meet with him. Shortly after, they became collaborators on Audubon’s greatest achievement, but it wasn’t all fun and fame. Bachman and Audubon had very different ideas for the book; Bachman urged Audubon to further his education while Audubon relied on what he already knew. This was just the beginning of the budding work relationship between the two friends.  Audubon often seemed indifferent to mistakes; in some instances, Audubon would try to finesse a statement when he lacked facts and Bachman did not approve of this. In a letter of April 24th, 1837, Bachman told Audubon that he “managed the article cunningly, but not ingeniously.” Bachman wanted to take his time and do extensive research for the book but the Audubon’s wanted to work quickly and finish it, to start creating income. Audubon worked hard during this period, but still ignored most of Bachman’s requests of books unavailable in Charleston, along with ignoring Bachman’s request to obtain more species and more than just one skin of every species. Audubon also took inadequate notes, leaving out locations of collected specimen or vague citing’s that were almost useless. All in all, Bachman wanted these books to be educational, when Audubon wanted them to be art and income. After all this drama though, the two released the single greatest collection of North American birds ever, and immediately started working on their next project, the mammals of North America, unfortunately, Audubon would not get to see the final product.  

Due to his failing health Audubon spent the final years of his life at home, leaving the work to his sons and Bachman. Audubon died January 27th, 1851 and was buried in Trinity cemetery in New York City, where our favorite founding “rapper” Hamilton is also buried. It’s intriguing that two illegitimate sons of the Caribbean achieved such great success in America and rest in the same cemetery. Audubon wasn’t the first to study birds, but the way he did it made him one of the forefathers of the modern conservation and environmental movements. In 1886, the first bird preservation society, The National Audubon Society was named in his honor, throughout the years several wildlife sanctuaries, parks, etc. did the same. Through the 20th century the National Audubon Society has been responsible for creating sanctuaries, getting laws passed, and just general protection of bird species, and watersheds, all in Audubon’s name. 

Be sure to visit Josh's exhibit at Washington's Headquarters Museum, featuring first editions of Birds of America and Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.

Sources Editors, “John James Audubon”. The website. A&E Television Networks. Last Updated December 8, 2016. April 2017.

Maggie Maclean. “Lucy Bakewell Audubon” Women History Blog. April 2017

Lester D. Stephens. “Science, Race, and Religion in the American South: John Bachman and the Charleston Circle of Naturalists, 1815-1895”. University of North Carolina Press, 2003. April 2017.

Wikipedia. “Havell Family”. Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia. April 2017. Editors. “History of Audubon and Science-based Bird Conservation”. Website. April 2017.

All images were provided by Google Image. 

This blog post by Joshua Knighten, Rowan University.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Peter Toth Receives Commendation

If you have joined us for our Sunday afternoon concert series, you might have had the fortune of hearing talented concert pianist, Peter Toth, perform. Since last spring, he has offered nearly a dozen free recitals. 

This weekend, Park Superintendent Thomas Ross awarded Toth with a special commendation for his recitals last year during the NPS Centennial.

Congrats Peter and thank you for your service! 

Summer and fall recital schedule TBA.