The WHOLE THING

While reading about new exhibits at a museum in someone’s house (their old mansion), and remembering tours I have been on that were also in old houses, I always had a desire to see the ENTIRE thing. I mean, including the parts that normally get changed into offices, storage, etc.

I know this isn’t practical for a building to be preserved exactly like it was in all rooms, but I still wonder what the original “scullery” was like, or how cavernous the coal bin was. I’d like to have the complete affair accessible to all visitors within practicality. Unfortunately old buildings were about as inaccessible as possible. Jefferson was notorious for his two foot wide stairs that can be difficult for fully able persons to use.

Does anyone else, either visitor or conservator, have this desire too?

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One thought on “The WHOLE THING

  1. A

    Well, when I worked at the goldie paley house i did take the time to see everything that I could. I guess it’s not a terrible surprise I’m also interested in things like this. (Can I blame a parent for this?) The entertaining rooms were turned into the exhibit space. The bedroom/sitting room/guest room/master bath were housing the collection. And were supposedly haunted.. or had flaky wiring. Cause I definitely had the lights go on and off when I was back there alone. Less frightening than annoying, as I had to make my way to the hallway and down it by feel in a very tight space. That whole area was super-tight, the collection was housed in any spare 1/2 foot of space and took up most of the pathway.
    The servants quarters were staff offices – and completely looked like staff offices. Not that the servants probably had decorated quarters, but it had been completely turned into office space. The kitchen was exactly the same (!) and occasionally still used by catering for exhibit openings (!!) but was where usually we had lunch. The pantry housed decor-related items: vases, dried flowers, hangers & clips for exhibits. If there was an attic, I didn’t see it, or realize it was there. The basement housed more of the collection, the swatches and samples and things on rolls. Plus the restoration area (such as it was) and freezer were also in the basement, I think. The garage had landscaping tools in it, so roughly the same function. The oddest part of it was the servants bath room – served as staff restroom, but the bathtub housed a light bulb collection. No one could figure out why, but all the dead light bulbs got put there. It was about 3/4 full.
    Aside from the super-crowded collection space (and we did give tours to some classes anyway) the top floor was pretty accessible. The basement, not so much. It was a unique house though – old, but in the forward looking “california style” that made it mostly one story-ranch like. So, that’s my experience. The other art museum was always a museum (I think) so not the same. Should mention this to Joe, I bet he’s got a lot of stories on this topic.

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