Early American ironwork highlighted in new Colonial Williamsburg exhibit 

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(Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg)
(Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg)

Early American ironwork will be examined, for both its vital functionality and its artistic beauty, in a new exhibit opening soon at Colonial Williamsburg’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.

Entitled “From Forge and Furnace: A Celebration of Early American Iron,” the exhibit will open Nov. 24 and remain on view indefinitely.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, objects made of iron – from tiny cookie cutters to massive stoves – were the essential wares of everyday life and commerce in America, according to a news release from Colonial Williamsburg.

“From Forge and Furnace” will feature nearly 100 such objects, including weathervanes and decorative eagles; utilitarian objects such as hinges, a pot lifter and a soldier-shaped doorstop; kitchen equipment such as wafer irons, ladles, skewers and toasters; household accessories such as firebacks and a miniature flat-iron; chandeliers and other lighting fixtures; and tools such as an eel spear, a branding iron, a gardening claw and an anvil.

“Things made of iron are so commonplace, and have been for so long, that they are generally overlooked and taken for granted,” Erik Goldstein, Colonial Williamsburg’s curator of mechanical arts and numismatics, who curated the exhibit, said in the release. “By gathering a wide variety of implements because they are all made from this metal, “From Forge and Furnace” shows how truly beautiful and indispensable iron was to early Americans.”

A highlight of the exhibit is a four-foot-tall, hollow, cast-iron statue of George Washington dressed in a toga. Its design is closely related to that used for the creation of a marble statue of America’s first president created in 1826 for the Massachusetts State Capitol Building in Boston.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are located at the intersection of Francis and S. Henry streets in Williamsburg, and are entered through the Public Hospital of 1773. The museums are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Additional museum program information is available by calling (757) 220-7724.