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NRF Brings “Furniture Forward” to Christie’s Americana Week

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Meaghan Barry
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Newport, RI — Newport Restoration Foundation is pleased to collaborate with Christie’s Auction House on a special lecture event for their upcoming Americana Week (January 17 – 24). On Wednesday, January 22 at 4:30 pm, NRF’s Director of Museums Dr. Erik Greenberg will present Furniture Forward: A New Approach to Interpreting Doris Duke’s Furniture Collection at the Whitehorne House Museum in Christie’s Boardroom at their headquarters in New York City. A reception will follow at Christie’s beginning at 5:30 pm.

During Americana Week, Christie’s will hold three auctions (as well as associated programming) that speak to themes of American beginnings, patriotism, diversity and influence. The series begins with the Outsider Art sale that highlights exceptional artists such as Bill Traylor, Henry Darger and William EdmondsonChinese Export Art Featuring the Tibor Collection, Part II showcases Chinese Export porcelain, specifically famille rose soldier vases, covers, and court lady candleholders. And The Important American Furniture, Folk Art and Silver auction closes the week with an array of extraordinary artworks and objects, including pieces from the collection of the late Ralph E. Carpenter, the renowned collector, curator, and advocate for the restoration and preservation of Newport’s decorative arts and architecture.

The Whitehorne House Museum was NRF’s first museum, opening in 1974, and for many years it served as a domestic house museum. In 2017, the museum closed, as staff, outside scholars, and others reinterpreted the museum collection, focusing more closely on its exceptional collection of 18th-century furniture, much of it purchased by NRF’s founder, Doris Duke, and most of it from Newport in particular or Rhode Island in general. NRF uses the furniture on display to tell important stories of colonial Newport through one of its most prized creations. Staff have also developed a more engaging experience for visitors to the museum, including hands-on objects, a multimedia installation, and other opportunities for visitor engagement. It reopened on May 29th, 2019. Dr. Greenberg’s presentation will address the museum’s recent, interpretive changes while placing them in the broader context of Colonial era furniture exhibition across the country.

When asked about his upcoming talk, Greenberg noted that, “When I arrived at NRF a year ago, our interpretive staff shared with me their plans to reinterpret the Whitehorne House Museum and their desire to bring the ‘furniture forward’ from among the many utilitarian objects and decorative arts in the collection.  I was taken with their vision, and have become fascinated by Newport furniture, the people who made it, purchased it, traded it, and the many stories these pieces can tell.  I see my presentation at Christie’s as an announcement of our new direction, an appreciation for the work of our talented staff, and an assertion of our plan to evolve and grow into an important institution that celebrates 18th-century, Newport furniture and its stories in the city in which it was made.”

This free event is open to the public. RSVP to the lecture is required. If interested, please respond to Alicia Cipriano by Friday, January 17th 401.849.7300 ext. 117 or at Christie’s is located at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020.

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