Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Local Tourists: The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum

We took a stay-cation outing to Woodrow Wilson's place today, right down the street in Staunton, Virginia. Our impetus was the great gift of the Blue Star Museums incentive, allowing military families free admission to certain museums during the summer. (So cool! I wish we could travel the country museum-hopping...) Thank you, Blue Star and The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum.
Three houses sit on the ridge known as Gospel Hill, at the edge of Staunton's downtown. Only the Presbyterian manse was there in the 1850s and Wilson's parents lived there. His father was the minister. The Museum comprises the manse and the other two houses. The middle houses administration, admissions and gift shop. The largest houses the Woodrow Wilson Museum (above.) Come on in for interesting exhibits on the life of the Wilson family, the President's parents and siblings, their short residence but long relationship with the town of Staunton, Wilson's education at the finest institutions in the country, his presidency, World War I and the Woodrow Wilson family.
And the President's beloved limousine, a Pierce-Arrow, one of the first luxury automobiles, lovingly restored and shown off in the large garage/exhibit. Wilson was one of the first members of the AAA, but he never earned a driver's license.
These war posters set the scene for the WW I exhibit - complete with the trenches, their sights and sounds, photographs and old rusty weapons in the basement. The dawn of the machine in war.

The pennants and ribbons and, especially, this typographic drawing endeared me to the graphic and celebratory techniques of the early 1900s. 

I especially loved the exhibit featuring the paintings of Wilson's first wife, from Georgia, Ellen Axson Wilson. She earned awards and exhibited and studied at the Art Students League in New York while she was engaged. After she was wed to Wilson, Ellen pursued family life primarily, painting when she had time as the children grew.

An artful life at the White House, thanks to Ellen Axson Wilson. 

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