Thursday, September 30, 2010

Interview with Small Museum of the Month: Dumbarton House

Dumbarton House
Earlier this month, we announced our August Museum of the Month, Dumbarton House. SMA recently conducted an interview with their director, Karen Daly. Check out what Karen had to say! (All photos courtesy of Dumbarton House/The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America.)

SMA: What is your name and position at the museum?
DH: Karen L. Daly, Executive Director 

SMA: What is the most surprising/interesting thing in your collection?
George Washington Beaker
DH: We have a copy of the first printing of the Articles of Confederation, with marginal notes from James Nourse—the father of our early resident Joseph Nourse, and a leader in colonial Virginia. We also have a silver beaker, or camp cup, used by George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Both are very exciting links to our nation’s founding over 200 years ago. 

SMA: What do you hope people take away with them after visiting your museum?
DH: I hope they leave with a better sense of the effort and determination of early Americans—the idea that our nation was a great experiment, and the building of our national capital here in Washington and our national identity overall took many years and countless patriotic Americans to make a lasting reality. 

Articles of Confederation
SMA: What are some of the programs/exhibitions/services you offer at your museum?
DH: We offer a regular calendar of temporary exhibitions, school & Scout programs, and public programs for the community.  This fall, for example, we’re hosting monthly walking tours of our historic Georgetown neighborhood, Jazz in the Garden during extended evening museum hours, theatrical performances, and Cotillion Classes for pre-teens. 

SMA: Are there any fun stories about your museum?
DH: Absolutely!  On August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812, Dumbarton House served as first point of refuge for First Lady Dolley Madison as she fled the threatened White House.  When she received word from the President about where to meet in Virginia later that day, she travelled on and escaped to safety across the Potomac.  The British only hours later would arrive in Washington, setting fire to the Capitol and then the President’s House. 

SMA: Besides your own, what is your favorite small museum and where is it located?
DH: I love Riversdale in Maryland.  Home of the Mistress of Riversdale, Rosalie Stier Calvert, the historic site has lovely grounds including a working kitchen and period-appropriate gardens. Their interior has undergone exciting restoration efforts in recent years and staff are always hosting new and interesting public programs.  To me, the site reflects exactly what is best about small museums—a real connection to the local community and a personal feel to tours and programs. 

SMA: What do you think small museums can do to become better and/or stronger?
DH: I think working with each other and collaborating is the key to our future success.  We can accomplish far more as a group than any one institution can accomplish on its own, and SMA is a great organization working to foster that kind of camaraderie.

Want to be a Small Museum of the Month? Learn more here!

No comments:

Post a Comment