2014 Exhibits

 

A Night at the Opera

 

Bessie and William McKee spent their winters in Boston at their large, elegant townhouse on Commonwealth Avenue. Among their favorite entertainments was the Opera. They were members of the Boston Opera Company which performed at the Opera House, and they attended every week during the season - often twice a week. To learn more about the Opera and what will be exhibited visit our blog by clicking here.

 

Sculpture Embraces Horticulture

This summer, six regionally known sculptors will create original installations in Blithewold's Gardens. Rhode Island sculptor and RISD graduate, Allison Newsome, will curate the three-month outdoor sculpture show. Click here to learn more about the exhibit and specielf events associated with it!

2013 Exhibits

 

Blithewold was designed, indoors and out, to entertain and delight friends and family. Our exhibits and programs this season will focus on celebrations both elegant and casual.

 

A Wedding to Remember

This exhibit located in the newly expanded second floor exhibit space of the Mansion, will showcase Bessie & Augustus Van Wickle’s wedding. On display will be Bessie's 1882 wedding dress, gifts, and trousseau.

 

 

Picnics, Parties & Playtime

Visit the Summerhouse in the Enclosed Garden for a photo exhibit of weddings, Fourth of July picnics and clambakes at Blithewold from the same era, as well as photographs and home movies of family fun from the early 1900s.

 

 

 

 

 

2012 Exhibits

 

Blithewold's unique location on Narragansett Bay, with its protected deep-water harbor for boats, superb sailing on the Bay, and easy access to the Atlantic Ocean was the primary reason Augustus and Bessie Van Wickle purchased the property in 1896. The dock and bathhouse allowed Augustus to pursue his love of yachting and provided easy access to his growing collection of Herreshoff boats, the 78-foot steam yacht, the Marjorie, and the racing sailboats, the Esperanza and the Wild Swan.


In recognition of Blithewold's spectacular waterfront setting, the family's enjoyment of Narragansett Bay, and Augustus Van Wickle's distinction as Commodore of the Bristol Yacht Club and member of the New York Yacht Club, we are celebrating summers on the Bay, both past and present, through both our programs and special exhibits.


The exhibit “Summertime by the Bay” was a celebration of summer activities at Blithewold dating back to 1894 when the Van Wickles bought the property and went on their first cruise on the family’s new Herreshoff yacht, Marjorie. For the next eighty years, summertime at Blithewold was a golden time, full of laughter, sunshine, and exhilarating activities: sailing, swimming, and kayaking; tennis, lawn bowls, and croquet; chasing dogs and balls on the great lawn; dancing and dining in the evenings while the young cousins ran wild through the grounds.

The main exhibit space in the house will highlight photographs, guest books, games, and summer clothing – all from the Blithewold collection. As a special treat we have several of the family's small boats displayed in the Sleeping Porch.

The exhibit continues in the Summerhouse where the family traditionally gathered for tea and lemonade on hot afternoons. Here you will see a collection of large-format photographs of the family enjoying their summers together. This will be an ideal place for children to connect to the past and try out old-fashioned games like hula-hoop, croquet, jacks, checkers, and cards.

 

    From Our Blog

  • The Shop at Blithewold (Nov 18, '14)
    If you’ve visited Blithewold during our Christmas season before, I’m sure you’ve noticed the cheery, little shop tucked away in the Breakfast Porch. The Shop at Blithewold normally lives in the Visitor’s Center, but at Christmastime it moves to the Breakfast Porch and nearly triples in size, allowing them to carry more fun, festive, Christmas […]
  • Maple candy (Nov 14, '14)
    One day last week it seemed as if the switch that turns on the Japanese maples was flipped. We all noticed it. And I think we all tried to burn their color on our retinas (and camera sensors) in an attempt to hold us over for winter. And evidently, winter arrived this morning. We weren’t […]
  • Fox Dressmaking Company (Nov 12, '14)
    The Fox Company, Bessie Van Wickle-McKee’s favorite dressmaker, was one of the oldest and most elite dressmaking establishments in the United States.  Founded by the four Fox sisters in 1885, it occupied an elegant house at 53 East 34th Street in New York City.  Under the Fox sisters, the business flourished, ultimately employing 225 people.  […]
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