Conferences, Forums, and Workshops
The office of Conferences, Forums and Workshops presents a broad range of high-quality programs that address issues of historical and contemporary significance as well as focusing on the decorative arts, material culture, historic trades and horticulture. Colonial Williamsburg's skilled professionals are joined by distinguished members of the academic and professional communities to present these programs.
Join us for the Garden Symposium, Working Wood, the Antiques Forum, and other programs for a rewarding learning experience.
Please bookmark this site and check back frequently for new offerings. Special conference rates are available for programs at Colonial Williamsburg's official hotels. To make room and dining reservations, call (757) 220-7255 Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m.
Program Information and Online Registration
Working Wood in the 18th Century
Dining in Style
Note: As last year, Session One runs Sunday through Wednesday and Session Two Thursday through Sunday.
Colonial Williamsburg, The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and Fine Woodworking present the sixteenth annual Working Wood in the 18th Century conference at Williamsburg, January 19 – 22 and 23 – 26, 2014. Projects and presentations will explore the design and construction of dining room furniture, based on original pieces selected from the collections of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts at Old Salem Museums and Gardens in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The pieces to be built cover a range of complexities. Colonial Williamsburg’s Hay Shop staff will reproduce one of the icons of Virginia and Southern high-style furniture, the elaborate sideboard table made by William Buckland and William Bernard Sears for the Tayloe family of Mount Airy plantation. The Hay Shop also will make a turned, gate-leg, walnut table, based on the earliest Southern gate-leg table known. Steve Latta will demonstrate constructing and decorating a veneered and inlaid, Winchester, Virginia, sideboard. Brian Coe of Old Salem will produce a corner cupboard from the Davidson County, North Carolina, Swisegood school of cabinetmakers. Colonial Williamsburg joiner Ted Boscana will complement Brian’s presentation with a joiner-made, paneled cupboard from the Virginia Eastern Shore. And, Robert Leath, MESDA's chief curator (first session), and Daniel Ackermann, MESDA's associate curator (second session), will start things off with an introduction to dining rooms and their furnishings.
Partnering with MESDA gives us a chance to focus on Southern regional styles and construction, a theme of the new “Masterworks” gallery being installed in the Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Yet, the overall form and decoration of these pieces, whether Baroque in inspiration--drawn directly from Chippendale--or inspired by neo-classical taste, offer approaches and detailing applicable to many examples of Anglo-American furniture made throughout the eighteenth and into the early nineteenth centuries.
Daniel K. Ackermann, associate curator, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Old Salem, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Ted Boscana, supervisor, journeyman joiner and carpenter, Colonial Williamsburg
Brian Coe, director of exhibition buildings and furniture maker, Old Salem, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Steve Latta, educator and craftsman, Thaddeus Stevens College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and contributing editor, Fine Woodworking magazine
Robert Leath, chief curator and vice-president of collections and research for the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Old Salem, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Kaare Loftheim, journeyman cabinetmaker, Colonial Williamsburg
Bill Pavlak, apprentice cabinetmaker, Colonial Williamsburg
Brian Weldy, apprentice cabinetmaker, Colonial Williamsburg
As always, the conference will be informal. Participants’ comments and questions are welcomed. During morning and afternoon breaks, speakers display their work, tools, and materials; demonstrate techniques; and chat with participants. To include more participants while keeping the conferences small enough for everyone to be involved, two identical programs are offered.
66th Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum
New Findings in the Arts of the Coastal South
Innovative research regularly reveals new and exciting information about the goods made in and imported to the early American South. Previously unrecognized bodies of furniture, ceramics, silver, textiles, and other materials now illustrate distinctive local styles and preferences in the surprisingly diverse communities that stretched from Maryland to Louisiana. In order to better share the richness of this new scholarship, we are unveiling our first ever two-year schedule for the annual Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum. In February 2014 we will present New Findings in the Arts of the Coastal South, plumbing recent developments in topics such as southern portraiture, early Annapolis cabinetmaking, and Charleston silver, to name but a few. These presentations will, in turn, provide a foundation on which to explore taste and craftsmanship in the southern Backcountry during Antiques Forum 2015.
The 2014 Forum features a host of acclaimed curators, collectors, and dealers who will share their freshest observations and discoveries. Scheduled speakers include J. Thomas Savage, director of museum affairs at The Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum, Carter Hudgins II, director of preservation and education at Charleston’s Drayton Hall Plantation, and Carol Cadou, the Robert H. Smith Vice President for Historic Preservation and Collections at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
In addition to the formal program, Forum guests may register for optional hands-on workshops with the Colonial Williamsburg collections as well as private tours of historic homes in the region. This promises to be an eye-opening Antiques Forum. Please plan to join us February 14-18, 2014, for the 66th annual Antiques Forum, New Findings in the Arts of the Coastal South.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
and the Chautauqua Institution: Forums for Citizenship
Turning Worlds Upside Down:
Liberty and Democracy in Revolutionary Times
Throughout history, the desire for justice and human rights has motivated people who felt themselves oppressed to seek political change that promised a better future. Colonial Williamsburg and the Chautauqua Institution present "Turning Worlds Upside Down: Liberty and Democracy in Revolutionary Times," an exploration of revolutions past and present.
A series of presentations and historical reenactments will explore how the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence were challenged as the American Revolution evolved into the War for Independence, and how present day revolutions confront those same challenges.
Join the conversation as distinguished historians and journalists examine the conflicts between revolutionary ideals and the day to day realities of self-governance in periods of social and political upheaval.
March 16 - 19
Millinery Shop 60th Anniversary Conference
Millinery through Time
Colonial Williamsburg is pleased to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop. For 60 years, the shop has interpreted the 18th-century business and craft of millinery with its ever-changing fashions. As fashion has evolved and changed with time, so has the trade. Millinery through Time will explore the development of the trade from the 18th century, dealing with thousands of fashionable accessories, to the 21st century, specializing in a single fashionable item: hats. This conference will present an understanding of the trade from a scholarly and a technical perspective through the collaboration of lectures, hands on workshops, and demonstrations. Join us as we step into the world of millinery, one of change, creativity, commerce, and fashion.
MuseumPests 2014: Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries, Archives and Historic Sites
MuseumPests.net goes live at Colonial Williamsburg! After 10 years of creating online IPM resources for the museum, library/archive and historic site community we are partnering with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to hold a two-day conference and workshop program. Papers will be presented in the mornings and hands-on workshops in the afternoons. Come meet and connect faces to the colleagues whose digital signatures you've seen on the PestList. Presentations will be posted on the museumpests.net website following the conference. Check back for more information.
More and more people are appreciating the health-giving benefits of active gardening and of raising their own home-grown organic produce —from sweet scented herbs to succulent fruit and vegetables. The treasures we American gardeners produce when we grow organic food and work with our hands have value beyond our personal needs, and help to support the growth of resilient communities that can better resist the pressures of modern life. Guest speakers and Colonial Williamsburg staff will share their expertise on the concept, design, maintenance, and pleasures of organic gardening and living lightly — from the ground up. Topics include brewing beer, fragrance, garden-to-table meals, herbs, heritage breeds, natural dyes, and more!
Co-sponsored by the American Horticultural Society and Organic Gardening.
The Cahn Collection © 2011 David Ulmer
A Handsome Cupboard of Plate Revealed:
Early English and American Silver
. . . I esteem it as well politic as reputable, to furnish my self with an handsom Cupboard of plate which gives my self the present use & Credit, is a sure friend at a dead lift, without much loss, or is a certain portion for a Child after my decease, . . . what plate I design to have purchased, would be strong & plain, as being less subject to bruise, more Serviceable, & less out for the fashion . . .
These words, penned in 1688 by the wealthy Virginia planter William Fitzhugh, summarize the many roles silver played in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Whether fashioned into a tankard, candlestick, porringer, or spoon, silver was useful and beautiful, proclaiming its owner’s wealth and status while also maintaining its value in forms that could be passed along to future generations. In conjunction with the loan exhibition “A Handsome Cupboard of Plate: Early American Silver in the Cahn Collection,” Colonial Williamsburg is hosting a symposium from May 2 to 4, 2014. Join curators, collectors, and craftsmen for lectures, demonstrations, and optional hands-on workshops exploring all facets of English and American silver. It’s a sterling opportunity to polish your knowledge of this much-treasured material!
75th Anniversary of the Wigmaker's Shop
January 18-21 and 22-25
Working Wood in the 18th-Century
Textile Symposium: What’s in a Name?
* Brochure downloads require Adobe Reader
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Post Office Box 1776
Williamsburg, VA 23187-1776
Fax: (757) 565-8921
Telephone: (757) 220-7255
Toll free: (800) 603-0948