Opening today, April 9 and running through October 19 at the National Constitution Center, Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello gives guests an in-depth look at the lives and legacies of the slaves who worked at the former president's Virginia plantation. (Photos courtesy National Constitution Center)
UPDATE: Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello’s run at the National Constitution Center has been extended through January 4, 2015.
Today the National Constitution Center unveils Slavery At Jefferson’s Monticello, a multimedia exhibition about the more than 600 slaves that worked for the former President of the United States and influential Founding Father.
Set to remain on view through October 19, the exhibition focuses on the paradox of Jeffersons’ work as a proponent for equality and his life as the owner of hundreds of slaves.
Learn about the daily work of the Monticello slaves and in particular, the legacies of six of the slave families through hundreds of artifacts from the Monticello plantation.
Read on for more on this marquee exhibition, including background, specifics and special events.
Monticello, a 5,000-acre plantation comprised of farms, gardens, barns, woodlands and much more, was one of Jefferson’s main estates. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, Monticello is now a historic site for education.
While Thomas Jefferson preached individual freedom and promoted national equality, the Founding Father also owned slaves all of his life.
Through more than 280 artifacts, video footage and artifact recreations, Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello takes guests on an in-depth journey through the Monticello plantation and spotlights six of the slave families who lived and worked on the estate.
Greeting museueumgoers, a giant statue of Thomas Jefferson and a wall of names of the slaves who he owned starts guests on a walk through history.
Throughout the exhibition, guests will find the family trees of the six featured families — Hemings, Gillette, Fossett, Hern, Granger and the Hubbard brothers — surrounded by artifacts that signify each family’s craft, as well as photographs and written accounts of their stories.
In addition to artifacts belonging to and created by the enslaved people, the exhibition also features a number of items from Jeffersons’ own collection — a walking stick, glasses (which were made in Philadelphia!) and a replica of the desk Jefferson used to draft the Declaration of Independence.
Also learn about Mulberry Row, the hub of Monticello, which was home to more than 22 dwellings that housed artisans and servants. See archeological discoveries from the grounds of Mulberry Row including ceramics, clothing buckles, pottery, toothbrushes and rare coins.
In celebration of opening weekend of Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello and in honor of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, the museum offers discounted admission — $3 off — to all guests from April 11 to 13.
Throughout the seven-month exhibition, the museum will also present genealogy workshops on select days in the spring and summer. Learn about your own family history after exploring an exhibition that prides itself on strong family ties. Ancestry days are slated for May 10, June 19 and August 9.
On one of the final Fridays of the exhibition, Friday, October 9, the National Constitution Center invites the crowd in for a First Friday celebration complete with $5 admission to the museum, after-hours tours of the exhibition, food and drinks and more.
The National Constitution Center treats guests to a themed exhibit tour by way of iPod, too. Upon arrival, guests have the option to purchase the tour for an additional $3 (free for museum members).
Voiced by Susan Stein, Monticello’s Richard Gilder Senior Curator and Vice President for Museum Programs, the roughly 50-minute tour takes guests on a journey through Jefferson’s Monticello while recounting the treatment of his slaves, their daily work, information about the families and artifacts that have been found since the sight closed its doors as a plantation.
Don’t miss the chance to take in this stunning glimpse of the past.
Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello
When: April 9-
October 19; Extended Through January 4, 2015
Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
Cost: Included in the price of general admission
More info: www.constitutioncenter.org