The Connecticut Historical Society is housed in a unique building. The building is a mansion erected in 1928 by inventor Curtis Veeder. Veeder lived in the house with his family until they sold it to CHS in 1950. The building went over a few renovations and additions, including converting the upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms into exhibition galleries. Though we use our gallery spaces to their fullest, we like to have fun and display objects that are not associated with an exhibit in spare areas of the building.
We use this nook for large, one-of-a-kind objects that are new acquisitions or recently conserved. It’s a great space to showcase and object for people coming down the hall or out of the Research Center. Currently this space houses a velocipede, an early form of the bicycle. Previously, the space was used to show maps and a glass armonica.
This niche was probably used by the Veeder family for a bust or vase of flowers. We like to utilize it by putting up a bust from the collection and dressing it with apparel from our store.
The Nawrot History Nook is a relatively new space for us that highlights topics created by our Collections staff. The case houses objects, manuscripts, and photographs that are separate in theme from the larger exhibitions upstairs in our galleries. These mini-exhibits helps provide another way of revealing the numerous stories and collections in our building. Some information about previous mini exhibits can be found here and here.
We try to recycle as many materials as we can when we build our exhibitions. See our green initiaives in this blog post. However, some materials simply cannot be used again like these cut out characters used in previous exhibits. One is a life-sized portrait of the late 7’ 2” Margo Dydek, which was used in She Shoots…She Scores! The History of Women’s Basketball in Connecticut. The students in our education programs use these stairs, so we hope it’s a nice surprise for them to be greeted by one of the tallest woman basketball players ever.
Hanging in the stairwell in the Veeder house is a tin chandelier not original to the house. It is a handcrafted, three-tiered tin chandelier holds which holds 24 candles, and when the delicate crimped spirals were new and bright, they would have reflected in the candlelight. There aren’t many areas throughout the building where we could show this—so this location is our best opportunity.
We try to have fun and use the nooks throughout our building to creatively showcase our collection. If you come visit, be on the look out!
Mike Messina is the Interpretive Projects Associate at the Connecticut Historical Society.