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Go "Gallivanting Around the World" with Morven Park's new exhibit at the Thomas Balch Library

Image of bronze statue on display in the billiard room of the Davis Mansion

The new exhibit at Morven Park, entitled "Gallivanting Around the World: Trinkets and Souvenirs from the Morven Park Collection," is now open at the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg. This new exhibit explores how the Davises' eclectic décor and furnishings reflected cultural attitudes of wealthy Americans during the last quarter of 19th century. Visitors will be able to see Asian antiques, art, furniture, textiles and more on display for all to enjoy!

If you're looking for something fun and educational to do with your family, then be sure to check out Morven Park's new exhibit at the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg: "Gallivanting Around the World: Trinkets and Souvenirs from the Morven Park Collection."

Davis Mansion Opens New Exhibit: One of Many Educational Things To Do With Kids in Loudoun County

If you’re looking for educational things to do with kids in Loudoun County, consider a visit to Morven Park. The magnificent Greek Revival mansion at Morven Park was built over a modest fieldstone house. From 1903 to 1942, the home was occupied by Westmoreland and Marguerite Davis. The Davis mansion contains a diverse collection of art, furniture, and souvenirs gathered from Europe, North Africa, East Asia, and the Mediterranean region by Marguerite and Westmoreland Davis at the turn of the 20th century. The collection offers insight into the Davises’ world travels.  To help them plan their itineraries, Marguerite and her family appear to have preferred the popular Baedeker Guides, as over 40 of the comprehensive travel guides are held in the Morven Park Library. Inscriptions inside the books, written by Marguerite’s mother or siblings, often provide the date of their visits.

This new exhibition, featuring items from Morven Park, will provide you with an inside perspective on the fabulous keepsakes and inscriptions left by the Davis family, and will also show you how the Davises interpreted global trends in their Loudoun County home. Guided tours of the Davis Mansion take visitors through several fully furnished rooms on the first and second floors while telling stories about the Davises' social and civic activities throughout the first half of the 20th century.

Explore East Asian Antiques Throughout the Exhibit

The couple acquired everything from genuine antiquities to run-of-the-mill memorabilia while on their trip. If you're interested in learning about East Asian antiques, or if you just want to see some beautiful art and furniture from that region of the world, then be sure to check out the Morven Park exhibit at Balch Library!

As the popularity of commercialized goods for tourists grew throughout the world, souvenir shops in different countries began producing and selling commercialized items that would appeal to travelers in order to meet the demand from American visitors. For example, Japan’s artisans sold clothing catered to western fashion tastes, western-style furniture with an Asian flair, and realistic carvings and paintings of favored Japanese subject matters. As a result, many casual collectors like the Davises furnished their homes with East Asian art designed for the American market, instead of authentic relics.

This new exhibit "Gallivanting Around the World: Trinkets and Souvenirs from the Morven Park Collection," at Morven Park will showcase these East Asian antiques and their influence on American culture and explore this aspect of globalization in more detail.

Promoting Cultural Rejuvenation Through Art: Why Eastern Asian Art Matters

Coinciding with an expansion of travel, and in an effort to keep up with the up-and-coming trend, well-to-do Americans started to furnish their homes with aesthetically appealing antiquities. The goal was to achieve cultural rejuvenation inside the home to counteract the rapidly changing landscape of industrial America. The Davises often relied on art dealers such as the Duveen Brothers to broker the transfer of treasures from failing European estates into their possession. Marguerite also commissioned several Gothic Revival furniture pieces from Italian furniture maker Fratelli Mora.

Experts Provide Context on Items in the Davis Mansion

The fascinating collection at Morven Park is still being researched. In 2018, Morven Park engaged a subject matter expert to conduct research on Marguerite’s Asian Art collection. We now know that the twenty objects composing this collection form two distinct groups: commercial craft art developed for the western market and traditional Buddhist relics.

As funding becomes available, Morven Park continues its research to learn more about the fascinating mix of prized art and quirky souvenirs collected by the Davises. Nonprofit organizations like Morven Park depend on donations to fund research and conservation of unique collection objects.

To support the exciting projects happening at Morven Park, please visit MorvenPark.org/DONATE.

Gallivanting Around the World: Trinkets and Souvenirs from the Morven Park Collection will be on display through April 29 and may be seen by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1 to 3 p.m. Please call 703-737-7195, email balchlib@leesburgva.gov, or fill out an Appointment Request Form online.

Make sure to check out this new exhibit today!

Make plans to visit Morven Park! Guest are invited to play in our gardens and grounds, learn how our past influences the present in our museum and collections, and discover the treasures of our 1,000 acres. For more information, please visit MorvenPark.org. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram for updates!

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