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February 10, 2010

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and Bassett Hall offer free admission Feb. 20

Tour the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and Bassett Hall free on Saturday, Feb. 20 in celebration of two milestone anniversaries.

The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2010. The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg can be toured from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 20.

Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr., opened in June 1980. This historic home will be open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 20.

Enjoy exhibitions at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum including Pottery With a Past: Stoneware in Early America, a display of the wide array of drinking, dining and storage vessels made in England, Germany and early America, and Declarations of Independence, a display of copies of the declaration by five printer engravers for the 50th anniversary of the document in 1826.

At the adjacent Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, guests can tour the museums’ newest exhibition, Steve Harley: An Original Life, which reflects the American image of rugged individualism as expressed through Harley’s entire body of work — five extraordinary oil paintings, several pencil drawings, a sketchbook and photographs.

The award-winning DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum houses the Foundation’s renowned collection of British and American fine and decorative arts dating from 1600 through 1830. Featured in regularly changing exhibitions, these include the world’s largest collection of Southern furniture; nationally important holdings in English silver and pewter; a vast collection of 18th-century clothing and textiles; and one of the largest collections of British ceramics outside England.

The award-winning Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum—the oldest institution in the United States dedicated solely to the collection and preservation of American folk art—features paintings, drawings, furniture, ceramics, whirligigs, weather vanes, carvings, toys, quilts, musical instruments and other folk works representing many diverse cultural traditions and geographic regions.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are located at 326 W. Francis St. in Williamsburg, Va., and are entered through the Public Hospital of 1773.

Bassett Hall, a two-story, 18th-century frame house on 585 acres (including woodlands) near the colonial Capitol building, features the main house, a teahouse and three original outbuildings, all of which were given to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 1979 by the Rockefeller family. Bassett Hall underwent an extensive restoration and re-interpretation in 2002-2003 that was funded by a generous gift of $2.7 million from Abby O’Neill, granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller Jr., and her husband George.

As a result of the renovation, both the interiors and the grounds are much as they were when the Rockefellers lived there during the mid 1930s and 1940s to oversee the restoration of the Historic Area. Of particular note is Abby Aldrich Rockefeller’s eclectic collection of 125 pieces of folk art, including weather vanes, chalkware and American pottery—pieces that Mrs. Rockefeller was among the first in the nation to collect.

Bassett Hall is located at 522 E. Francis St.

For museum program information, telephone (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.

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