Last year as I was brainstorming ideas for local outings suitable to a year of studying Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Classical Greece, Republic and Empirical Rome and its demise, I scheduled in several focus trips to our local Chrysler Museum of Art. The museum does not have an extensive ancient history collection, but a visit to the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY) is out of our budget. Sigh. To my extraordinary chagrin, the Chrysler announced renovation plans, closed the museum in its entirety and placed most of their collection in storage. Bummer.
Fortunately, they selected a few sites in Norfolk to serve as satellite museums to display groupings of their works; and while these collections didn’t exactly coordinate with our studies chronologically, we were pleased to get out of the house and visit over the summer.
We first visited the Moses Myers House. The Myers Historic home is furnished in the Classical Revival style which hearkened back to our study of Classical Greece and Rome. The home was built by a prominent Jewish merchant family who initially moved to Virginia because of the state’s legal commitment to religious freedom. You can read a great deal about this intriguing family here. The friendly, well-informed and attentive Docents guided the daughter and I through the house and helpfully pointed out classical elements and reminded us about Virginia’s unique and important Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (click link for text – it’s not long) written Thomas Jefferson in 1779 and passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 1786.
We found the house, the family and their story more captivating than the relatively few pieces of art placed within. Well – except the Grecian Urn. We really liked the Grecian Urn! We also found a painting in the entrance hall done by Samuel Morse of a young woman quite luminous and finely detailed. Yes – Samuel Morse of Morse Code was an exceptional painter. Who knew!? There is also a pop art display inspired by, or perhaps capitalizing on the house’s requisite ghost story. In any case, the daughter deemed this a “successful” field trip!
A few pictures: