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Featured Articles

A Windfall of New Collections Items on Long-Term Loan

August 31, 2019|Blog, Collections, News|

On July 24, the Mansion welcomed Libby descendant Mary Marcell--and with her came some precious cargo indeed. Mary arrived with four wine glasses, four cordial glasses, two pot de crème, and a soup bowl, all original to the Morse table service. She also brought a needlepoint sampler, silver nut dish, silver hand mirror and powder jar, all belonging to Mary Louise Libby (later Chamberlain). Mary Louise (1874-1971) was the middle daughter of the house's second owners, J.R. and Louisa Libby, and resided in the Mansion from 1894 until her marriage (in the Mansion's Parlor, no less!) to Arthur Chamberlain in [...]

Pudgy, Pouty Putti

July 25, 2019|Blog, Collections, News|

By VM Guide Charisse Gendron In early 1998, Victoria Mansion started preparations for an exciting project: the reconstruction of its large stained-glass skylight, which had been shattered in a storm sixty years before. Surviving pieces were salvaged at the time, but only one clue remained to the overall composition: a roundel bearing a winged putto personifying the season of Spring. This roundel was known to be one of a set of four, but the others were destroyed during the storm incident, and no documentation of their imagery existed. Overseeing the project from concept through completion, former Curator Arlene Palmer Schwind [...]

The Bourne Identity: What Was the Ottoman For, and Where Does It Belong?

July 15, 2019|Blog, News|

by Victoria Mansion Guide Lisa Schinhofen   Victoria Mansion’s blue circular ottoman is hard to miss — due, in part, to its size and its prominent placement in the middle of a given room — and visitors often remark upon it.   Many recognize the ottoman as a type of public seating, having seen something similar in a hotel lobby, train station, art gallery, or shopping mall. To others, it is familiar as a precursor to today’s sectional sofas.   Some visitors have suggested that the ottoman may have played a role in Victorian courting rituals, as it allowed couples [...]

Victoria Mansion voted Maine’s Best Historic Landmark for 2019!

July 2, 2019|Blog, News|

Thank you Down East readers for voting Victoria Mansion as Maine's Best Historic House Museum/ Landmark for 2019! The Mansion is in fantastic company with the Pejepscot Historical Society, the Francis, and the Portland Museum of Art. For a full list of all the fantastic winners, click HERE!

Conservation Update: Layers of Mystery in the Parlor’s Decoration

June 7, 2019|Blog, News|

Conservators have nearly completed a "first pass" of cleaning the Parlor's walls and ceiling after re-stabilizing the original paint and gilding. This process presents an impasse for the rest of the project as potential problems may reveal themselves once layers - and over a century's worth - of soot and grime are removed from surfaces. A layer of opaque white paint (very similar to that in the Green Bedroom) has always been visible on the ceiling's north-facing side. The white paint most likely was applied in the 1940s as an attempt to make the "trouble spots" (such as water damage [...]

From the Tub Room to the Smoking Room and Back Again by Charisse Gendron

April 22, 2019|Blog, News|

Western culture began defining itself in contrast to the East as early as the Trojan War of Greek versus Persian. In the centuries to follow, as European civilization advanced, its soldiers, traders, adventurers, and artists increasingly perceived the East as a nostalgic counterpart to progress. Across much of the second millennium, Europe conceived of the regions from Egypt to Turkey to India and, eventually, to China and Japan as places to be studied, traveled, occupied, commodified, and poeticized.   After World War Two, as empires fragmented and the new field of postcolonial studies arose, scholars in both hemispheres gave a [...]

Partnering with Students to Expand the Mansion’s Educational Offerings

April 18, 2019|Blog, News|

In 2013, Victoria Mansion launched a school program for elementary school learners entitled A Century of Change. This program, allowing teachers to choose from 8 topics to tailor a lesson and visit for their students, has proven to be a successful model. We look to expand this programming, yet find the needs of middle and high school students are very different from the 3rd and 4th graders we currently serve. To reach the challenging middle school audience, Victoria Mansion and Casco Bay High School in Portland partnered on an "intensive," where students from the high school devoted 5 class days from [...]

Conservation Update: Pulling the Rug Out from Under Us!

April 18, 2019|Blog, News|

With only a few short weeks left before the Mansion opens for the season May 1, conservators are busy prepping for the major conservation project in the Parlor. The room's gasolier and furniture have been removed and relocated elsewhere throughout the house, and the original carpet will soon be rolled and rehoused to make way for scaffolding. There are also plans to relocate the two major paintings in the room, Jacob's Dream by Luther Terry and The Iconocolasts by Emanuel Leutze, upstairs to the Green Bedroom. Meanwhile, conservators are also hand-stitching a 17 by 20 foot pad to reinforce and repair the original carpet [...]

Shedding Light on the Mansion’s Servants and the Irish Connection

April 18, 2019|Blog, News|

In recent years there has been an increasing interest in servant life at the Mansion. Last fall, our Celtic Storytelling programming included traditional Irish tales that the house's servants might have delighted in around late October. This May, we look forward to opening a new space in the Mansion to include the house's employees in our interpretation. What little is known about the servants has been primarily pieced together from census records. However, these records are by no means comprehensive since most of the servants would have listed other residences as their permanent addresses. What follows is perhaps a microcosm of [...]

Conservation Update: Parlor Project Begins in Earnest

April 7, 2019|Blog, News|

After months of preparation and planning, including the safe removal and relocation of all furniture and furnishings from the Parlor, conservators have officially begun work on the room's walls and ceilings. After a detailed surface cleaning, conservators are now in the process of re-adhering flaking and damaged paint and gold leaf. Once this step is completed, they will then remove disfiguring soot and grime that has been accumulating over the last 160 years, much of it from the Mansion's original coal furnace. Though the methodology is very similar to the recent project in the Reception Suite, finding space within the [...]

‘The Aesthete and the Abolitionist: Ruggles Morse and Emanuel Leutze’ by Charisse Gendron

March 13, 2019|Blog, News|

In 1846, the German-American history painter Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze created 'The Iconoclasts', a large oil canvas depicting 17th-century English Protestants destroying art works in a Catholic church. The painting was commissioned by James Robb, a banker and collector then living in New Orleans. During the financial panic of 1857, Robb sold his home and much of his art.[1] As friends of Victoria Mansion know, Ruggles Morse purchased 'The Iconoclasts' and later hung it in the Parlor of his new summer home in Portland, Maine. Leutze was by then famous, having painted 'Washington Crossing the Delaware' in 1851. The painting "caused a [...]

Remembering Jack Evans

February 22, 2019|Blog, News|

The Mansion lost a very dear long-time friend and supporter in John J. Evans III (Jack), who passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on February 16. Originally from Lancaster, Pa.,  Jack attended the Lawrenceville School, where he met his future wife of 67 years, Noreen Blakely. Jack later graduated from Wesleyan University and the Graduate School of Banking in Wisconsin before studying at N.Y.U. and Harvard Business School. He also served during the Korean War and received a direct commission upon deactivation to continue as an officer of the New York Air National Guard. Jack spent his entire professional career with [...]

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