The Newport Restoration Foundation’s Whitehorne House Museum has been a fixture of Lower Thames Street for almost 45 years, and it’s time for some change! NRF is inviting the public to join them in Rethinking Whitehorne through two free community open house events on September 18 and 30.

 

While Whitehorne House Museum has been closed in the last year, NRF staff and peers from other Newport organizations have been working on more compelling ways to present the collection and how better to tell the story of Newport’s famed eighteenth-century furniture making and other craft traditions. Before any final decisions are made about changes and reinterpretation, the organization would also like to hear what the community thinks.

 

The collection at Whitehorne House Museum was personally assembled by heiress and preservationist Doris Duke to demonstrate the full range of Colonial craftsmanship in Newport, and work on the museum coincided with her most active period of restoring 18th– and early 19th-century houses for NRF. The collection includes significant pieces of furniture made by cabinetmakers from the famed Townsend and Goddard families, and many other Newport and Rhode Island workshops active at the same time.

 

The museum has remained largely unchanged since Doris Duke arranged the collection in room settings and opened the museum in 1974, and NRF is now considering other ways to present the collection to meet the needs and interests of audiences today. At the Rethinking Whitehorne open houses, several activities will guide visitors in helping NRF staff to identify what those needs and interests are. Should stories of the Townsend and Goddard families take center stage? Should more focus be put on global connections of Colonial Newport? Or on design, materials, and use of individual pieces? Do visitors want to know how to cut a dovetailed joint? Or see Target’s new line of “Newport” furniture?

 

“We have a collection in Whitehorne House that has long been renowned among specialists in 18th-century American Decorative Arts and with collectors and furniture makers,” said Margot Nishimura, NRF’s Director of Museums. “Now we’d like to see it become just as appealing and inviting to wider audiences, and for the stories told through a new presentation of the collection to inspire greater interest more generally in Newport’s Colonial heritage.”

 

Newport Restoration Foundation invites the public to have a look and provide feedback on what they would like to see in a rethought Whitehorne House Museum. The event is free and visitors are welcome to come for as little or as much time during the open hours. While registration is recommended (at www.NewportRestoration.org), it is not required.

 

Event Dates:

September 18, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

September 30, 1:00 – 4:00 pm

 

Directions:

Samuel Whitehorne House Museum

416 Thames Street

Newport, RI 02840

 

Located on the east side (away from the water) of Thames Street, four blocks south from the intersection with America’s Cup Avenue.  This one-way street offers limited parking, but can also be reached by foot or trolley.

 

For information on Whitehorne House Museum, visit www.newportrestoration.org or call (401) 849-7300.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.