Animals abound in Williamsburg—from our colonial cats, to our Leicester Longwool sheep, to our majestic horses. Few know however, about a black and white-spotted dog named Prince, who lives at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
Now Prince is not a real dog, but he is a carved version of the Weil Family Terrier. He’s also the main character of the Down on the Farm family gallery. In 2007, Manager of Exhibit Planning Jan Gilliam and Christina Westenberger, the Assistant Manager of Museum Education put this exhibit together. The gallery was designed specifically for kids, though adults can certainly enjoy it as well. The story itself centers on Prince’s quest to visit his country cousin.
He gets help from a friendly rooster, talks with a carved sheep that was once part of a store sign, and journeys to a pond filled with ducks and fish decoys. The gallery is designed cleverly to highlight the folk art pieces while emphasizing the storyline.
It follows Prince in storybook form as he ventures through folk art paintings and meets other members of the museum’s collection. Jan Gilliam and other members of museum staff designed it so visitors feel as though they are in a children’s book themselves—with bright primary colors, storybook pages, and animal sounds playing in the background.
We don’t want to spoil the ending, but Prince’s adventures undoubtedly will entertain kids of all ages. If you need more motivation, the gallery also features a coloring station for kids and adults alike to add their own artwork to the gallery. You can color a scene from the story, an object on display, or use your imagination to create something new. The museum staff is always impressed by the creativity and beauty of the drawings. There are lots of budding folk artists who pass through our doors!
This is the only gallery specifically for kids but opportunities abound for families in all areas of the museum. Currently, an exhibit dedicated to dollhouses is on display next to the Education Studio, which is sure to entertain. Christina Westenberger also conducts programs and tours that end with crafts and family activities. And Famiky guides are located at the bottom of the grand staircase as well as in some of the galleries. Overall, these programs are designed to engage visitors and get kids excited about art!
Guest Blogger: Sally Meyer
Sally Meyer is a History and Art History double major at Christopher Newport University and an education intern at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Thomas Jefferson has been her favorite founding father ever since her grandmother, a tour guide at Monticello, let her play in the rotunda. Sally comes from a long line of history buffs and has loved Colonial Williamsburg since she visited with her family growing up. She plans to get her Master’s Degree in museum studies after graduation, and to have a career in the museum world.