Hello again, blog-followers! You have no doubt noticed my absence over the last few weeks, and I hope you don’t mind. I spent some lovely time in England, Scotland and Ireland, and saw some truly amazing houses and furnishings. Perhaps I’ve brought back an idea or two for Kenmore! However, vacation (and summer) are coming to a close, and I have returned to my desk and gotten back to work on what will be my main project for the next few months – writing the furnishing plan for Kenmore.
I have mentioned the furnishing plan once or twice, but I don’t think I’ve really explained what it is or why we need one. In short, it is document that serves as a roadmap for our efforts to re-furnish Kenmore in an historically accurate manner. The plan will cover not only what collections objects (everything from furniture to artwork to silver) will be placed in the house, but also outlines what objects we still need to acquire. In addition, it describes the themes we will try to illustrate throughout the house through the set-up of the rooms – the family stories, the events of the day, the everyday lives of Kenmore’s occupants in 1780. Essentially, all of the research we have done, all of the information gleaned from the restoration, from archaeology and from documents like the probate inventory, is finally pulled together in the furnishing plan. Our conclusions, our best guess at what all of that information tells us, can be found in the furnishing plan. Ideally, a furnishing plan acts as a roadmap for those of us currently working on the re-furnishing project, but it also explains our thought-process to those who come after us. 20 years from now, when the next curator looks at a chair in the Chamber and thinks, “What were they thinking?”, the furnishing plan should explain exactly that.
Just to give you an idea of how much information is contained in this document, let me give you a run-down on its table of contents. There’s a section of the document devoted to each room in the house, and then within each room, we have the following headings: How the Room was Used, Interpretive Themes, Furnishings and Justifications (sub-headings in this section include As Listed in the Probate Inventory, As Indicated by Other Documentation, and Supported by Research), Necessary Acquisitions, Special Projects and Timeframe/Budget. Every house museum structures their furnishing plan a little differently, but this is the list of information we felt necessary to complete our project here at Kenmore. In the end, it will create a sizeable document!
The final document will be completed by the end of this year. And then? Well, then the real work begins!