‘American Family Treasures’ documents America’s first centuries with the D.J. & Alice Shumway Nadeau Collection


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A horse and surrey weather vane, part of the D.J. and Alice Shumway Nadeau Collection at the National Heritage Museum.


“American Family Treasures: Decorative Arts from the D.J. and Alice Shumway Nadeau Collection” transports the visitor to the first centuries of our nation’s history.

More than 70 objects are on view, including exquisitely crafted furniture, metal work, glass, and more—all made in the towns and villages of New England. The exhibition also marks the first time a significant portion of the Nadeau collection has been presented to the public. This collection was recently donated to the National Heritage Museum, in memory of the Nadeaus.

The Nadeau collection was not designed for show. The furniture bears the scuffs and marks of common usage, and is untouched by a restorer’s hand. Just like its makers and original owners, more recent owners also thought of this furniture as functional tools for everyday living, not as icons of art. This is not to say they did not appreciate its aesthetic appeal, but the furniture was used by adults and children and subjected to the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Not only do the objects fit well in the Nadeau home, but each piece also has its own family associations and stories. On view are 18th- and 19th- century tables, chairs, and chests, a metal chandelier, as well as looking glasses and lighting devices, all offering a glimpse of times past. A traditional 19th century copper weather vane, needlework, and objects produced by New England glass companies will also be presented.

The opening of the exhibition coincided with the publication of American Family Treasures: Decorative Arts from the D. J. and Alice Shumway Nadeau Collection by Ian Quimby.

The book, priced at $60 ($54 for NHM members), has 160 entries as well as an essay by the author. It is available by calling 781-457-4108, or at www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.



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