Williamsburg does for history what books cannot: it comes alive. I didn’t anticipate what an impact this would make on me. We saw the unraveling of a monarchy’s grip on a feisty, frustrated collection of colonies. We witnessed an uprising of merchants protesting a new tax that the King was imposing on their goods. They cornered the Governor of Virginia and demanded he put a stop to it. By the end of the day, the colony leaders got together and declared independence from England.
This is a powerful way to learn history. Read it in a book and it’s just so many facts. But be there, and it all comes to life and stays with you.
It’s that way with material culture, too. You’ve got to see it first-hand. Williamsburg is home to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller museum. This houses a magnificent collection of fine folk art that the wife of John D. Rockefeller acquired after they restored Williamsburg. I do not exaggerate: we spent 5 hours in this place, enthralled by the fantastic collection. In particular, we reveled in the stoneware exhibit, on loan by Arthur and Esther Goldberg. Here are some pieces from the collection: