September 10, 2013



Museum Directors Visit NMAI 

at Vernon Court



On August 29th, 2013, a group of Museum Directors from across the nation toured the National Museum of American Illustration at the invitation of Trudy Coxe, CEO of the Preservation Society of Newport County, and NMAI's Museum Co-Founders, Judy and Laurence Cutler. The participants are members of  "The Gilded Age Museum Association": each member is the head officer of a Gilded Age Mansion Museum. Like the NMAI, the beautiful buildings that house these museums were built in the "Gilded Age", some even sharing our same architects: Carrere & Hastings (C&H buildings include: Vernon Court, The Flagler & The Frick Collection), who were amongst the most highly regarded and popular architects of  "The Gilded Age." 





 Bill Bodine, Direc., The Frick Art and Historical Center, Pittsburgh, PA;






 John Blades, Exec. Direc., The Flagler  (C&H building), Palm Beach,  FL;







 Trudy Coxe, Exec. Direc., Preservation Society of Newport County, RI;







 Steven High, Direc., Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL;







 Joel M. Hoffman,  Exec. Direc.,Vizcaya Museum, Miami, FL;







 Kate Markert, Direc., Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens,              Washington, DC;








 Deborah Scott, Direc., and CEO, Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, OH;







 Ian Wardropper, Direc., The Frick Collection (C&H building), NYC, NY.






Other members of the group, but not in attendance include:


William M. Griswold, Direc., The Morgan Library & Museum, NYC, NY;

Anne Hawley, Direc., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA;

John Murdock, Direc., The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA;

John Wetenhall, President, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, PA.



The tour included the current  Maxfield Parrish: The Retrospective exhibition, held over by popular demand, and special selections from our permanent American Imagist Collection. The group toured the first floor of Vernon Court and bonded over many familiar architectural details and features, and how similar they were to their own museum venues. As with its counterpart museums,Vernon Court serves as a unique frame in which to highlight many great works of art .



As proud hosts, we graciously thank the Museum Directors for visiting and  hope they return soon.






New York Social Diary features article on Vernon Court


John Foreman,  © "Big Old Houses" on New York Social Diary


Often NMAI visitors, while viewing our vast illustration collection, are rightfully  curious about the history of the exquisite building which serves as our American Imagist Collection's frame.  Vernon Court was originally built as a summer getaway for a young widow, Anna Van Nest Gambrill and her eight year old son, Richard. It was a means to socialize during the Newport Summer Social Season with her peers - America's first millionaires. While the first floor and lower level are open to the public, the upper three floors are private . These many rooms on the upper floors were once filled with family and guests; a bustling summer "cottage" always preparing for the next great party.


John Foreman is a photographer-writer for the New York Social Diary, a Bloggist, and an historical house lover. John was given a private tour of not only the public rooms, but also private unseen ones, providing online readers with a very special "behind the scenes" look at the architecture which serves as a window into the rich history of Vernon Court. The article features over a hundred photographs as Mr. Foreman guides the reader though a rare look inside, as well as outside the 52 room mansion.


The complete article can be found here at the New York Social Diary, and also here at his blog which features explorations of other mansions and old houses.








New Museshop Courtyard



Stay cool in Spring/Summer or warm up in Fall/Winter in our newly restored blue stone Museshop Courtyard! Enjoy a snack or beverage and relax after touring the Museum, take a few minutes to admire your MuseShop purchases, and enjoy the beauty of the seasons changing in Newport from the comfort of our MuseShop Courtyard.









Continued due to popular demand! Parrish's work as a professional illustrator encompassed the years between the mid 1890s and mid 1960s. The exhibition features works from all periods of his career - from his early periodical illustrations, commercial advertisement paintings, depictions of fairy tales like the Brother's Grimm's Frog Prince, to his later landscapes for Brown & Bigelow calendars. His "girls on rocks" images were ubiquitous in the 1920s, with an estimated one out of every four American households having a Parrish print on display in 1922. His art was used to sell a seemingly endless number of products, including Jell-O, G.E. light bulbs, Crane's chocolate, Fisk tires, soap, cameras, bicycles, silverware, cosmetics, and Hire's root beer. NMAI has the largest Maxfield Parrish Collection of original artworks, including his largest commission, the Florentine Fete murals totaling 18 paintings each measuring 10ft 6in tall, and his smallest work, The Tallwood Pearl,  a 1 1/2in landscape scene painted on a Mother of Pearl button.





Opening the 2013 Summer Season, The American Muse is  a special exhibition featuring the illustrative works of Gilded Age great illustrators including: Charles Dana Gibson, Harrison Fisher, Howard Chandler Christy, Walter Granville Smith, James Montgomery Flagg, Albert Beck Wenzell, and others of their late 18th and early 19th Century Illustrator colleagues, each demonstrating their own particular notion of what embodied a classic female American Beauty. The American women were indeed different from their European counterparts, as they smoked, could enroll at universities, played sports alongside men, and therefore had a different attitude and posture. The most famous being, 'The Gibson Girl,' but Howard Chandler Christy was known just as well in his day for 'The Christy Girl,' as Flag's gals, Fisher's 'Liberty Belles', or Phillipe Boileau's exquisite, alluring creatures, and each had their day in the sun, whilst styles and tastes changed and evolved along with politics, sports and technology. A very special exhibition,  and to our knowledge, nothing like it has been exhibted in this manner before.





Mary Jane Begin's latest book for Hasbro, My Little Pony: Under the Sparkling Sea, as the title suggests, is a My Little Pony story with an aquatic theme. Her bold and intense use of colors in an underwater environment coupled with nuanced depictions of  facial expressions convey the characters' wonderment at the strange new world they encounter. Original illustrations from the book are on exhibition and for sale in the Lower Level galleries and MuseShop to benefit NMAI's nonprofit American Civilization Foundation.





Earning him the nickname 'The Father of American Illustration', Howard Pyle founded the first school for American Illustrators in 1900, The Howard Pyle School of Illustration Art, later known as 'The Brandywine School.' This exhibition features this Master's work, as well as some of his most well known students including N.C. Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, Violet Oakley, and others.






  Admission:                                                                       Off Season Hours (thru Memorial Day 2014):                           

  Adults: $18                                                                          Friday: 11am - 5pm                          

  Seniors (60+)/Military: $16                                      

  Groups (6 visitors or more): $15                                     Guided Tour: Fridays at 3pm

  Students: $12                                                                           (No Reservation Required)

  Children 5 to 12 yrs: $8                                                 

  *Children under 5 not admitted                               


(Guided Tours available at other times by appointment for groups of 6 persons or more. Call 401.8851.8949 ext. 18 for more information)



The National Museum of American Illustration is a nonprofit, independent, educational and aesthetic organization. It is located in Newport, RI on Bellevue Avenue at Vernon Court (1898), a Carrére & Hastings designed Beaux-Arts adaptation of a late 18th century French Chateau Haroue. It is the first national museum devoted exclusively to American Illustration art. Illustration consists of original artwork created to be reproduced in books, magazines, newspapers, and advertisements. "Golden Age" paintings by such luminaries as Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, NC Wyeth, JC Leyendecker, and 150 others are displayed in 'Gilded Age' architecture, creating a unique union of architecture and art - a national treasure. The Museum is administered by the American Civilization Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the goal to present the best possible venue for appreciating the greatest collection of illustration art - the most American of American art.



Contact Us:


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