As some of you know, I lived in Charlottesville Virginia for eleven years. Every time someone came to visit, we went to Monticello. Then when I went to graduate school for landscape architecture there, it seemed like I was either walking what was then the future site of my Roads teacher Will Reilly’s walkway up to Monticello or doing a historic preservation class and studying Mulberry Row, or exploring the roundabouts starting way below at his father-in-law’s estate property. Once my friend Chad even got me access to the Dome Room. I think I could give the Monticello tour with my eyes closed.
Last night I went to bed thinking a lot about old T.J. and how he had his foyer arranged. Is my life racy or what??? Anyway, it was meant to be a museum, full of artifacts from the territory in the Louisiana Purchase, maps, Natural History and American History. This is how one hangs antlers Louis-and-Clark-style,* under the auspices of a Natural History Museum:
Don’t you feel like designers today are still emulating this composition? It’s so interesting! Maybe this will bring real antlers back in, who knows.
I just received my copy of Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern (yes, I wait until books get a little cheaper sometimes, thus I’m a bit behind). I loved the way Amy and her husband David have created what they call “the nature study.” Amy describes it as “a kinetic environment where we can study and display our finds. We really have a ‘catch and release’ program with rocks, leaves, shells, plants, and branches. In order to keep it from cluttering up, we’ll study a piece for a while, and then take it back outside.” I love it! It’s so Jeffersonian! This idea also translates well for families with kids – what better idea than to provide them with their own mini-musuem.** Check out Amy and David’s Nature Study:
Don’t have room for an entire nature study? Try to use the ideas on a smaller scale. My obsession, besides chairs of course, is maps. I can study them for hours. I appreciate the workmanship and beauty in older drafting. I can’t stop looking at my latest acquisition, a map from 1874 we found of our island and the surrounding ones in Maine. Every time I look I notice something new, like why are there all these long rectangular buildings on Dix Island? Was it military? I can make out fields and paths that have stayed the same or have followed secession into forests, etc. Rachel Ashwell always used to collect birds’ nests. Some people love botanicals. I thought this picture from the January Blueprint showed how educational aesthetics work quite well:
I love the displays Flickr member dayataglance makes with her outdoor finds:
Is her work desk to die for or what?
Well, I guess I could go on and on, and I’m not even sure where this is going. I just went to bed last night thinking about this lame woman in New Jersey who tried to copy Monticello, and she pronounced it “Montisello,” and instead of a museum in the foyer, she had some big tacky oversized staircase (TJ used to make staircases really narrow and hide them because he thought they were a waste of space, thus, the Dome Room is off limits for Joe Schmoe visitors who don’t know my friend Chad). But then I stared thinking about what a great idea it was, and how many design moves we could trace back to good old TJ. Of course, his experimentation was all done on architecture that began with a base of Greek and Roman classics, so, you know, everyone is derivative, from Michael Graves to TJ to Palladio to the Greeks. Well, maybe it all started there, who knows?
By the way, I am so impressed with Monticello’s website. To see a really cool panoramic tour of Monticello, click here. If you visit, make sure to stop by Spudnuts on the way and have a donut for me!
*Actually, Monticello and a ton of TJ’s stuff were bought and sold over the years, so I’m not sure who arranged the antlers. TJ spent money like T-Boz, Left Eye and Chili.
Monticello photos from Monticello.org
Amy Butler photos from Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern, by David Butler
fireplace picture from Blueprint Magazine, by Johnny Valiant
last two photos from flickr member dayataglance