Gallery view of Across the Atlantic


    Gallery view of Across the Atlantic


    Installation view of Across the Atlantic


March 9 – December 10, 2021

The Atlantic Ocean did not separate Britain and the colonies: it connected them. From forks to flax, the everyday objects in this exhibit showcase the deep connections of empire and the vital importance of transatlantic trade. London held a large sway upon Colonial American society. London fashions traveled across the Atlantic through newspaper articles, letters, and the cloth ordered by merchants, labeled as “superior” English and European goods for sale. Portrait artists celebrated an idealized fashionability to consumers, while English illustrators exposed poverty and imbalances of power through satire and artistic representation.

Considering these museum objects in their transatlantic context complicates the idea of an independent American identity. Exchange, the lifeblood of the imperial relationship, kept the colonies tethered to the British Atlantic world. In the years leading up to the Revolution, however, colonists increasingly manifested their frustrations toward Britain by defiantly manufacturing some of their own products. Yet many still clamored for the latest London trends and the status, luxury, and quality of British manufactures. These objects reveal how transatlantic exchange and the consumer revolution were daily woven into the lives of colonists.

This installation was conceived and developed by Fall 2020’s History Seminar 275A, Early American History, taught by Professor Jacqueline Carr and including Louis Augeri, Annie Bedell, Dan Borbely, Barbara Bosworth, Morgan Brown, Sarah Chute, Collin Fiske, Carmen Harris, Bill Heath, Sawyer Loftus, Keegan Mosely, Bridget O’Keefe, Kaden Perrault, Andrew Pieper, Marie Russ, Sophia Trigg, Eleanor Webster, Nicolai Werner, Colleen Wilson.



Miniature portrait of Pres. George Washington, 1789

Miniature painting of George Washington

John Ramage (American, 1748-1802), Miniature portrait of Pres. George Washington, 1789. Oil paint on ivory. Hall Park McCullough Estate 1970.4.42

18th century Octant

18th century Octant

British, Browning and Spencer, London, England. Octant, 18th century. Wood, brass, ivory, glass. Gift of F.R. Bolster 1946.24.2

George Washington seal in frame, ca. 1780

George Washington Seal

American, George Washington seal in frame, ca. 1780. Sealing wax on paper. Gift of the Bellinger Sisters 1938.25.4


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A diverse and exciting schedule of programming accompanies this exhibition


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