The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg

With the Labor Day weekend now behind us and kids off to school, Summer is now officially getting ready to come to a close. If you are like me, right now you are saying to yourself, “Summer? What summer?” I feel like this past summer was a total blur as I continue my quest to find a happy balance between a full-time career in public relations and a full house with an growing eight month old baby, a fourteen year old starting high school, a husband with a busy schedule and three elderly dogs. By the time August rolled around, I was ready to pull my hair out of my head and start screaming like that woman in the commercial… “Calgon!! Take me away!!!”


Luckily, the Mr. planned a secret getaway weekend for just us in Colonial Williamsburg before I went totally insane. We stayed at The Cedars B&B, which is conveniently located in the heart of everything and is right across the street from the historic William and Mary College campus. Dr. Henderson built the brick colonial in 1933 out of historic bricks from a demolished building on the college campus. It became a bed and breakfast just two years later in 1935.


The next morning, as we finished our breakfast, the B&B owner asked us if we wanted to do an impromptu photoshoot in the back garden (which apparently he does with all his guests). Now, if you stay at The Cedars, you may want to have more coffee than we had prior to our “shoot”, but here were some outtakes from our modeling gig. And don’t worry…you get to take the photos with you before you pack up and go.


I’ve lived in Richmond, VA for a very long time now and Colonial Williamsburg is just about forty-five minutes southeast from me. In all of that time, I really can’t believe that I’ve never visited the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum until now. What a treat! If you have never been and you’re a fan of early American folk art, then you too are missing out! Here are just some of the highlights…


Admission to the museum is just $12.95 per person…which gets you access to both museums, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Prior to being an art museum, this building was actually the first hospital for the insane in America. Hmmm….maybe the Mr. had an ulterior motive with our trip after all? Maybe he was trying to tell me something…


This portrait had me thinking about my own little dogs…I think a portrait of my 3.5 pound chihuahua, Sassy, and I would look fabulous hanging over our mantel!

The collection of early American Folk portraits is quite impressive. I would say it takes up a good portion of the gallery’s collection. The collection focus on the period of 1700-1850. Here are just a few of my favorites. The handmade frames alone where drool worthy…


I loved the way the artist captured the light on this little girl’s dress. I also loved her little red shoes.


Besides portraits, the gallery offers a unique collection of wood carvings that include whirly gigs, carousel carvings, weathervanes and early advertising displays.


I stood in front of this little fellow for a while. He was so animated, he seemed like he would just get up and start playing his instrument. Too bad he lost his bow sometime down the road…


Who wouldn’t want this early American advertising piece hanging in their home? How playful is this! I love the fact that it has real fabric for shoe laces!


I don’t remember what this guy’s original purpose was…but isn’t he handsome?

Now through November 30, 2014, there is a small display of Tramp Art in the David and Mary Peebles Gallery. I’m a HUGE fan of tramp art…and I have to be honest, I was a little disappointed at how thin this collection was. So if you go to the museum expecting to see a large variety of tramp art pieces, you might wonder, “Where’s the rest?” What they did have was this amazing 6 foot tall tramp art mirror…it was mammoth in size. Imagine how long it took someone to carve all those tiny pieces!!


A massive tramp art mirror on display until November 30th.

In the portrait gallery was this amazing wooden carved portrait of a little girl. The folds in her dress seemed so real, so life-like, it was as if she would start moving. The Mr. was a little creeped out by her, but I thought she was adorable!


Besides art on the walls, this room featured actual walls removed from an early American home and reconstructed in the museum. The detail and original faux finishing on the mantel was jaw dropping.



Down on the Farm is an exhibit just for the kiddies that explores folk art and animal life. Children can even create their own drawings and hang them on a designated area of the gallery wall.


Old McDonald had some folk art!

How precious is this little wooden dog? Prince is a small wooden folk art sculpture created by a father for his two boys after their beloved doggie past away. I think Prince is quite the attraction at the museum…because you can purchase your own little stuffed version of this doggie in the downstairs gift shop.


How cute is this guy? I think after the dad carved him, he left him on the porch to scare away unwanted visitors.

And last but not least…look…at…this…crock!! This piece of folk art earthenware was created in Charles City, VA and stood at about 2.5 feet tall!! I have no idea how someone would actually fill this thing with water and use it…but how cool is that face? This is one of the many pieces within the collection that I stood and admired for a while.



Stay tuned next week to find out where we ended up next on our quick Williamsburg, VA adventure! To learn more about the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum or to purchase tickets, visit them online at

EVENT UPDATE! Antiques Roadshow appraiser, Ken Farmer, in Richmond, VA!

Don’t miss Ken Farmer, this Saturday, September 6th, at the Virginia Historical Society! Information about this event is here:’s-eye-value-southern-treasures


Copyright 2014. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.


One thought on “The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg

  1. Great museum tour, Erin! I have not been to those two buildings in years and you’ve tempted me to make the journey (140 miles from up here). And, BTW, the quality of your PHOTOGRAPHY on this blog is really impressive. Oh, yeah. Jon’s right: that little girl’s facial expression is mega-creepy.

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