Tuesday, 11 September 2012

American Museum in Bath

At the weekend we had a trip to the American Museum of Britain just outside Bath.

I went there a year or so ago with my husband to see the wonderful quilt collection, but this time it was my daughter who wanted to visit as she's hoping to study American Studies at uni next year.

The museum was originally set up in the 60s to display its wonderful American decorative arts collection including the Quilt Collection for which the American Museum first became known (I'll do a separate post on the quilts!), along with examples of Folk Art paintings, furniture, rag rugs, wallpaper examples and Shaker furniture, china and silverware.

Set next to Bath University just on the edge of the beautiful town of Bath, the Museum is housed in Claverton Manor, a lovely building with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside, and its a great day out with something of interest for all ages.

The first part of your visit starts on the lower level where you can learn about the history of America: the Native Americans, the Mayflower, the Founding Fathers, the arduous journeys of the settlers and pioneers, the American Civil War, the abolition of slavery, the Declaration of Independence, and the American West.

There is also a room set of an 18th Century Massachusetts tavern with the original Tavern sign, darkly lit and atmospheric and full of authentic period furniture and accessories.

beautifully detailed beaded moccasins

Native American  jewellery

There was a great interactive screen where you could imagine you were a pioneer about to set off on your long, difficult journey, and choose what to take with you - you had to choose only 5 things (as the wagon was already full presumably!!!) such as a gun, an axe, a quilt, etc..- I didn't get a photo as we were too busy playing with it!

There were also hats and props to mess around with - sadly I can't show you the photos of Bella wearing a sprigged bonnet and a black, large brimmed hat as she would never speak to me again!

There were cabinets containing intruiging items where you had to guess what they were and what they were used for .........here's a few.....


Check out here for a bit about them - I've always associated this painted metal type with American primitive style and folk art, and was surprised to learn that they've been around for centuries in some form or other all over the world, as weathervanes, bird scarers to protect crops or just as toys.

Bet you can't guess what this is.......

....an apple corer!!! Did you guess??

Corn dolls

quilting and applique templates

cloth replica of the Declaration of Independence

Asian china

On the ground and first floors there are room sets with period furniture, giving an idea how ( mainly well to do !!) people lived at a certain time - gorgeous William and Mary and Queen Anne original pieces of furniture, a New Orleans bedroom, a Pennsylvania German Room with wonderful decorative painted furniture, elegant 18th and 19th century parlours.

And a wonderful Stencilled Bedroom with quilt and lace canopied bed!

But one of the highlights of the trip was this fun thing!


Chose your pattern..........

choose your 3 fabrics.......

Happy? Yes??  Go!

Quilt finished!!

and......view it projected on the floor!!!!!

Oh, Bella and I did this more than a few times as you can imagine.....it was quiet on sunday afternoon and nobody else wanting to play, so poor Mr G found a comfy seat and waited patiently whilst we designed quilts!

Quilts and more to come next post!

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  1. oh it looks like a very nice meuseum in bath very nice and intresthing have a lovely evening

  2. I love a wander around a good museum. It sounds like a really interesting place, those first pioneers must have been so brave, I can't imagine! Looking forward to seeing the quilts :) x

  3. Oh that would just be my cup of tea, I love places of history which is surprising as I didn't like history in school. Real life history is much more interesting!
    I love the quilt making machine. :)
    Vivienne x

  4. I have often wondered what the museum was like inside. I think they had a Marilyn Monroe exhibition last year which I would have loved to have gone to.
    Lisa x

  5. I have been meaning to go to this museum for more years than I care to remember and it really looks fascinating! Love the quilt designing, especially the zig-zaggy one. It is so very annoying when you take a fabulous (normally funny) photo of a family member and you know you can't share it on your blog for fear of being sent to Coventry (or worse!)

  6. What a wonderful day out, it sounds really interesting. I bet Bella enjoyed it with her wanting to take American Studies at uni. The quilt designer looks like lots of fun, I could spend ages on something like that.

  7. Hello Gill, what a fab post. The American Museum is one of my favourite places. I have only been twice and the last time was quite a long time ago. You have just refreshed my memory with your great pictures and descriptions. What a wonderful day out!

    Many thanks for your recent visit and kind comments, it is so lovely to be back blogging again. I shall pop back later and catch up with you. Much love to you, Linda x
    p.s. can't wait to see the quilts!

  8. Gil,
    Very neat! Thanks for sharing so many photos. The computer program for quilts looks great being able to see the design of the quilt before you make it. The museum looks very nice, I hope your daughter enjoyed her visit too.
    xoxo Susan

  9. Wow, I never thought about another country having a museum about our history. Other than the original native Americans, I always thought our histories were similar. Of course political history was different, but I assumed that fashions, furnishings and things like quilting were the same, especially with the UK. This was a very interesting post . . . food for thought. Have a great week and thanks for sharing,
    Connie :)

    I guess it is like that old saying, "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence". Don't get me wrong, I love my country, but I am interested in other countries, especially the UK since that is where my heritage began. So, I don't know why it is such a surprise that you would be interested in America. But, are we so different?

  10. What a fascinating place to visit!
    Love the quilt designer...I would have played for hours with that too,and the bed...gorgeous!
    My nephew is up in Bath at Uni,so when we visit we'll be going to that museum for sure. :0)

  11. It is a wonderful place to visit. I went a few years ago when there was an exhibition of Kaffe Fassett quilts on and the antique quilts they have are gorgeous. The miniature rooms are great too. Must go again!

  12. I didn't know there was an "American" museum, or that there were university courses to study us. LOL!
    It looks like a really wonderful place. I can't wait to see the quilts.
    I'm the descendant of a pioneering family who crossed the continent in a covered wagon to Oregon.


Thanks for visiting and for taking the time to leave a comment - I love to read them!
Gill x