‘The Treasure in the Barn’- Exhibition at the Smith Cadbury Mansion in Moorestown, NJ
Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the bird collection of Edward Harris II.
Recently, a resident at the New Jersey shore contacted the Historical Society of Moorestown with an interesting offer. The resident’s mother had passed away and he now owned a chest of drawers containing some written documentation. The documentation explained that the chest had originally belonged to Edward Harris, II of Moorestown. One of Edward Harris’s hobbies was ornithology. When Harris lived in Moorestown, this chest held over 400 bird skins from his collection. Edward Harris and his good friend, John James Audubon acquired the birds when they went on two collecting excursions in the mid-west, in 1837 & 1843. It is possible that a number of these birds were models for Audubon’s paintings.
The Society accepted the chest. An early skilled New Jersey craftsman made the chest of dovetailed solid pine boards. The drawers are made of cedar and the knobs, of walnut. A coat of white paint covered the chest. In fact, many coats of paint covered the chest. The Society contacted an expert furniture restorer who painstakingly removed five layers of paint to reveal the actual coat of paint Edward Harris saw as he lived with the chest in his home in the mid nineteenth century.
The chest and a selection of birds from the collection, on loan from the Academy of Natural Sciences, are included in an exhibition, ‘Treasure in the Barn’, at the Smith Cadbury Mansion, 12 High Street in Moorestown, NJ. The exhibition will open October 14 and continue until February, 2013.
The Smith Cadbury Mansion is open Sundays from 1-3PM and Tuesdays from 1-4PM or by appointment.