KHS 2008 Exhibits

KHS 2008 Exhibits

Pulling Kent Out of the Closet: Discovering our Hidden Treasures

In 2007, the Kent Historical Society received a grant from The Connecticut Humanities Council to conduct a long overdue inventory of our clothing collection. When we finished poking through box after box of forgotten treasures, we knew we just had to share our discoveries with you. As we spread the word around the community, many of you offered your own cherished garments to be included in the exhibit.

The resulting collection spans over 150 years of Kent’s history, and offers a unique way to have a conversation about our community’s social, economic and cultural past – through the medium of clothing! The Connecticut Humanities Council agreed, and awarded us another grant to create the exhibit.

Pulling Kent Out of the Closet: Discovering Our Hidden Treasures covered a selected range of periods, with stops at Victoriana, the Roaring 20s, the Rebellious Sixties, as well as a range of types of clothing, from farmers garb to Civil War mourning to Colonial at-home wear.

We hope that the questions raised by looking at our local past will enable you to reflect on our current attitudes toward clothing and the material culture we inhabit as Americans today, early in the 21st century.

It is a throw-away society, one increasingly beset by economic and environmental struggles. How did we get to this point? What lessons could we learn from our past concepts about clothing and other possessions? Is our way necessarily better?

We invite your comments at the end of your tour, where a survey form will be available in the Gift Shop for you to fill out. Your participation will be of great help in our choice of topics for future exhibitions by the Historical Society. It also is a great asset as we apply for future funding grants.

As always, none of our activities would be worth it without you. Our sincere thanks to you for your donations of family treasures (heirlooms), and for sharing your personal histories with the community.

The Kent Historical Society is pleased to welcome you to Seven Hearths, a Colonial structure which was the home of internationally renowned artist George Laurence Nelson from 1919 to 1978, and which provides an interesting backdrop for the varied periods of clothing on display. Seven Hearths is, as you will see, in a state of restoration, which raises many sensitive questions of authenticity and modernization.

To what standard are we restoring? It was built in 1751, but has been inhabited continually by a series of families, culminating with the sophisticated Nelsons in the twentieth century. Our goal is to present the house in such a way that its wonderful history is evident throughout. The endeavor is expensive, and we hope that you will consider making a donation to the restoration fund. Together we will return Seven Hearths to its deserved place in our town’s history!

Thank you from the 2008 Exhibit Committee

Marge Smith
Stacey Danielson (consultant)
Jane Suttell Zatlin
Beth Dooley
Jeff Morgan

Illustrations in this guide are from the collection of the Kent Historical Society, unless otherwise noted.
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