Upcoming Programs
Please note: Due to the presenter's illness, the Threads of History First Friday program has been postponed until Friday, February 16, which is the Monroe's 232nd wedding anniversary. Coincidence? We think not.
Friday, February 16, 6:00-8:00 PM
Threads of History: Elizabeth Monroe’s Wedding Dress
Location: James Monroe Museum

The James Monroe Museum’s collection has two gowns which family histories identify as Mrs. Monroe's wedding dress. One is made of elaborately brocaded silk damask, while another is a pink silk taffeta. Join textile historian Colleen Callahan to learn the conclusions that were reached when delving into the gowns’ histories.
Monday, February 19, 6:00-8:00 PM
Presidents' Day Press Conference
Location: Monroe Hall, room 116, University of Mary Washington

The James Monroe Museum presents a conversation with presidents James Monroe (James G. "Jay" Harrison III) and James Madison (John Douglas Hall) , reflecting on their longtime friendship, their presidencies, and their part in the founding of our nation.

The conversation will be moderated by Scott Harris, Executive Director of University
Museums. Questions will be accepted in writing from the audience. The program will
also be available via live webcast courtesy of the University of Mary Washington.

There will be no admission charge at The James Monroe Museum on Presidents' Day from 10:00 AM-4:00 PM.

Keep an eye out for information about a conversation between First Ladies Elizabeth Monroe and Dolley Madison on Friday, March 2 in honor of Women's History Month!
Thursday, February 22, 7:00-9:00 PM
Gabriel's Conspiracy in History and Memory
Location: Monroe Hall, room 116,
University of Mary Washington

In the spring of 1800, Gabriel, an enslaved blacksmith on Brookfield plantation in Henrico County, began to organize one of the most widespread and potentially history-changing plots in North America. This talk examines the conspiracy within the context of early national Virginia and the Atlantic World. Why did Gabriel believe his plan could successfully liberate slaves in the state that was home to more bondpersons than any other in 1800, and what did Governor James Monroe do in the conspiracy’s aftermath? Finally, in a modern era of contested statues and monuments, how do we remember Gabriel and understand his use of revolutionary violence?

What's in Store?

To help keep occupied during those cold dreary February days the Museum Store has a great selection of educational activities. Presidents’ Day is this month, so it is the perfect time for learning more about the presidents of our great country! Make learning fun with our educational puzzles including President Monroe, Presidential Stamps, The United States Presidents, and more (most $16). If you enjoy playing cards, we have a great deck of cards featuring all of the US Presidents! ($7.90) Need a little something to pass the time? All about the Presidents Search-A-Word ($2.99) is just the thing. Throw it in your bag to keep busy at the doctor’s office or keep it in your car to work on while waiting for the kids.
Our February featured book is The Virginia Presidents A Travel and History Guide ($18.50) . This historical narrative guides the traveler through the lives of the eight men from Virginia who became president of the United States: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson. Enjoy this on a cold February day, then follow-up with a road trip when it warms up.
 
Come by the Store and get your presidential history today. Remember, Friends of James Monroe get 20% off ticketed price on all Store purchases!
Curator's Corner
This month’s featured artifact is an ornate armchair with a colorful and intriguing history. While there is no definite documentation of the circumstances under which James Monroe acquired this piece, there are numerous clues that can provide insight as to its origin and use.
The chair is executed in the Neoclassical (or Empire) style, of gilded birch. The back is surmounted by an eagle with spread wings grasping a laurel wreath and ribbon and flanked by fluted pilasters. The half-round armrests are supported by griffins on acanthus leaf bases atop front legs terminating in lion paws. It is part of a large suite of sofas, tables, and several varieties of chairs fabricated by furniture makers Dionisio and Lorenzo Santi of Rome for Cardinal Joseph Fesch around 1806. At the time, Fesch, an uncle of Napoleon Bonaparte, was serving as the French ambassador to Pope Pius VII for his nephew/emperor.
According to family tradition, James Monroe acquired this chair (and others) when the contents of Cardinal Fesch’s house in Rome were auctioned in 1816. There is no undisputed surviving documentation to support this, and scholarly opinion is divided over the matter. However, the chair did descend through the Monroe family and there are examples of Fesch furniture in the White House today. Indeed, pieces from the suite are dispersed throughout Europe and the United States, notably the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Château de Malmaison (former residence of Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The latter set, which is on loan to the White House, was donated by Henry Livingston Lee, a descendent of May Digges Lee, who was second wife of Samuel L. Gouverneur Sr., nephew and son-in-law to James Monroe.
A reproduction Fesch chair—or perhaps even an original—appears in the movie Gladiator . According to the studio, the chair in the scene was “probably rented from an external prop house.” There is no further information about the movie chair’s origin. Was it a prop inspired by the design of the Fesch suite, or yet another orphan from the large family of furniture that has traveled the world while holding onto so many of its secrets.
Winter Hours, and Closings

During the month of February the Museum will be open Monday through Saturday 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM and Sunday 1:00 - 4:00 PM. The Museum will be open with free admission on Presidents' Day, Monday, February 19!

For weather-related closures w e will post updates on our website and Facebook page. You can also consult local media outlets Fredericksburg.com and B101.5 .


The James Monroe Museum
908 Charles St.
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
540-654-1043