What's on View at the DAR Museum?
Encompassing an entire downtown city block, DAR National Headquarters houses one of the nation’s premier genealogical libraries, one of the foremost collections of pre-industrial American decorative arts, Washington, D.C.’s largest concert hall, and an extensive collection of early American manuscripts and imprints. Photo by Mark Gulezian
Located near the White House in Washington, DC, the DAR Museum, operated by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, holds a collection of more than 30,000 decorative and fine arts objects from the 18th and 19th centuries, including textiles, furniture, and silver. Through September 4, the DAR Museum is showcasing the traveling exhibit Honoring Lafayette: Contemporary Quilts from France and America.
Lafayette and Washington: An Enduring Friendship (2007); 89 in. x 101.5 in.; Paula McRae, Project Chair; Quilters Guild Acadienne; Lafayette, Louisiana. Photo by Sonny Monteleone
According to the museum website, Honoring Lafayette grew out of the 2007 commemoration in Lafayette, Louisiana, of the 250th birthday of the Marquis de Lafayette, a significant French supporter of the colonists during the American Revolution. As part of the celebration, quilters from the U.S., Canada, Belgium, and France were invited to make pieces that honored the French hero. Later, when the exhibit traveled to France, two more works were commissioned from noted African American quilters to highlight Louisiana’s intersection of French and African cultures. The exhibit also includes Lafayette memorabilia from the DAR’s permanent collection, such as commemorative china, broadsides, and even “shoes that were saved just because someone danced at a ball in his honor wearing them.”
Walk the Walk Fleur de Lys (2007), 29”W X 34”L, Dahnell Bell, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Photo by Sonny Monteleone
Here’s DAR Museum Director and Head Curator Diane Dunkley on what makes the DAR Museum unique:
We hope that visitors to the DAR Museum will discover a resource for information on American history and material culture, and that they will see ways to relate the past to their own lives. The current exhibition, Honoring Lafayette, connects the modern art of quilt-making to the history of the early Republic, to America’s long-standing friendship with France, and with one Frenchman in particular whose importance to the American Revolution survives in the many localities named in his honor. We want our visitors to return to continue to explore their nation’s---and their families’---histories.