MSV Miniatures Gallery to Reopen November 25
Renovation Highlights Include Improved Lighting, Video Touchscreen, and New Interpretation
Winchester, VA., 11/23/11…Just in time for the holidays, the R. Lee Taylor Miniatures Gallery in the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) will reopen on Friday, November 25, following an extensive three-month renovation project.
A favorite among MSV visitors of all ages, the gallery displays five miniature houses and eight room boxes, all furnished in exact detail. Half of the room boxes and all of the houses were donated to the Museum by the gallery’s namesake, R. Lee Taylor (1924–2000). In addition to working with Museum benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr. to create the Museum landscape and serving as its curator when the site opened to the public, Taylor was an accomplished miniatures maker and collector. He began making and collecting miniatures as a hobby in the 1970s to occupy time over the winter months when garden tasks were at a halt. The hobby turned into a passion with a goal to own at least one object by every major miniatures artist. By the time of his death, Taylor had assembled a collection of 14 houses and rooms that included more than 4,000 objects and featured the work of more than 75 renowned miniatures artisans. The best of Taylor’s collection is on view in the MSV, along with four miniature shadowboxes made in the 1930s and 1940s by the late Valley miniatures artist William P. Massey.
According to MSV Executive Director Dana Hand Evans, the miniatures gallery is the first of the Museum’s galleries to undergo a major renovation since the MSV opened in 2005. Evans notes that while the renovated gallery will display the same houses and room boxes, the visitor experience in the gallery will be much improved. New lighting and fabric additions in the display cases make the interiors and tiny furnishings in the miniatures more visible. Two new aluminum steps have been added to the gallery’s centerpiece, Lee Hall, so that young visitors may more easily see into it, and new gallery labels and exhibition rails present photos and information detailing the background and inspiration for the creation of each miniature.
Finally, a new electronic touchscreen in the gallery offers visitors the opportunity to view a video about Taylor’s collecting and scroll through an electronic version of the MSV book, R. Lee Taylor Miniatures: The Valley’s Tiny Treasures. The new touchscreen also allows visitors to take a virtual tour of Taylor’s masterpiece, the scale miniature of the Museum’s Glen Burnie Historic House. On view in the Visitor Center in the Museum’s gardens, this miniature previously was only available for viewing spring through fall when the gardens are open; now visitors enjoy year-round access to this fascinating miniature that shows how the historic house was furnished and enjoyed by Julian Wood Glass Jr. Director Evans considers this opportunity to be especially important now that the historic house is closed until 2014 for a preservation project.
According to Evans, the renovations reflect the latest in museum technology with conversion to LED lighting in the houses and cases. While the lamps and chandeliers in the miniatures actually work, they were never meant to operate for eight hours a day, six days a week; previous to the renovations the miniature rooms were dimly lit and the tiny lights frequently burned out or malfunctioned. The new LED lighting system uses less energy, produces almost no heat, and lacks the ultraviolet and infrared emissions that cause objects to deteriorate. These new, brighter lights also illuminate room interiors and allow visitors to see whimsical details formerly not visible, such as the tiny ghost in the attic window of the Shadows-on-the-Teche Miniature.
The renovation project was funded in part by a bequest from the estate of Jane Krug, wife of the late Charles Krug, the renowned miniatures artisan whom Lee Taylor commissioned to make many of the objects in the Glen Burnie Miniature.
To celebrate the reopening of the gallery, the Museum Store is offering a “Miniature Holiday Special.” This unique gift package will include the 122-page miniature book—which measures just over 4 inches and fits in the palm of one’s hand—and one gift admission to visit all the MSV galleries, including the miniatures gallery. A $22.95 value, the store is offering this package for $9.95 through December 23, 2011. Admission is not required to visit the Museum Store, which will operate on its holiday schedule from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. until December 23.
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is located at 901 Amherst Street in Winchester, Virginia. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, the MSV will be closed Thanksgiving, December 24, 25, and 26 (Monday), and January 1 and 2 (Monday). Gallery admission is $8 or $6 for seniors and students aged 7 to 18. Admission is free to MSV Members and children 6 and under. Gallery admission is free to all on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Additional information and details about holiday activities and special events at the MSV are available at www.ShenandoahMuseum.org or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 235. – END –
Julie B. Armel
540-662-1473, ext. 225