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August 15, 2008

Guests to CW's DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum can enjoy elegant live chamber music

During the program, Music at the Museums, guests can hear solo performances from members of Colonial Williamsburg's resident early music ensemble, Governor’s Musick, on period instruments at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. This drop-in music experience occurs between 3-4:30 p.m. Thursdays through Nov. 20 and features the 1762 Jacob Kirckman harpsichord, the viola da gamba, the English flute, the English guitar or the 1816 John Broadwood and Sons grand piano forte.

The harpsichord and the grand piano forte are originals. For much of the 18th century the harpsichord was the leading stringed instrument in Europe and America. At home and abroad the harpsichords of the London makers Burkhat Shudi and Jacob Kirckman were particularly admired. Frederick the Great of Prussia, Maria Theresa of Austria and composer Franz Joseph Haydn were among the foreign notables who owned English instruments. The case decoration of these harpsichords was usually figured walnut or, later, mahogany veneers with flamboyant brass hardware.

The grand piano forte is on loan from the College of William and Mary. A year before making a grand piano for Ludwig van Beethoven, the London firm of John Broadwood and Sons made and shipped this one to Mecklenburg County, Virginia. The recipient was Lady Skipwith of Prestwould Plantation in Clarksville. The piano remained in her family until it was given to the College of William and Mary in 1946.

The award-winning DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum houses the Foundation’s renowned collection of British and American decorative arts dating from 1600 through 1830. These include the world’s largest collection of Virginia furniture; one of the largest collections of Southern, British and American furniture; and the largest collection of English pottery outside England. Masterworks and period pieces acquired for Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area exhibition buildings bolster the museum’s holdings in furniture, metals, ceramics, glass, paintings, prints, maps and textiles.

A Colonial Williamsburg admissions ticket, Good Neighbor Card or museums ticket provides access to enjoy “Music at the Museums” and the Foundation’s extensive collections of British and American decorative and folk art.

Entrance to the museum is through the Public Hospital of 1773 at 326 W. Francis Street. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For information and reservations call (757) 220-7724.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121