A special exhibition at the Concord Museum
September 13, 2013 through March 23, 2014
The Best Workman in the Shop explores William Munroe’s (1778 – 1861) life and career through the objects he made – including some of the most beautiful clocks crafted in Massachusetts, exquisitely crafted furniture and his detailed shop records. Perhaps most revealing is his 1839 autobiographical account, an incomparable archive of a Federal-era craftsman. The autobiography and numerous records from Munroe’s shop are the generous gift to the Concord Museum of William Munroe’s great, great grandchildren, Bill and Charlie Munroe.The grandson of Patriot activists, Munroe arrived in Concord in 1800, with a set of tools and patterns for making clock cases, and $3.40 in cash. Forty years later he proudly recorded having more than $20,000 in assets, a remarkable achievement for a craftsman at that time. William Munroe crafted fine cases for clocks (made by his brother Daniel Munroe) as well as sideboards, chests of drawers, and fire screens for his family and neighbors. He was on contract to Boston retailers before briefly abandoning cabinetmaking to manufacture the first wooden-cased graphite lead pencils made in the United States.
Encompassing three galleries, The Best Workman in the Shop also features several multimedia elements, including a soundscape created by audio producer Kezia Simister that brings to life Concord’s Milldam where Munroe worked with the sounds of bellows, horses, hammers, chisels, and axes. Munroe’s apprenticeship and career are further explained in short videos featuring curator David Wood and cabinetmaker Freddy Roman, produced by Six One Seven Studios:
The exhibition is presented in collaboration with Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture. The Four Centuries project, celebrating the craft and industry, tradition and innovation of Massachusetts furniture-making, is made possible through the generosity of many individuals, foundations, and institutions, with special support for exhibitions in Massachusetts by Skinner, Inc.
The Best Workman in the Shop was featured on WGBH's Greater Boston on September 23, 2013:
Don't miss The Munroes of Lexington and Concord, a special exhibition at the Concord Free Public Library, now through January 31, 2014. Click here to read more.
Also on view
Let's Work Together: Treasure Chest
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Let’s work together to construct a special place to stash your most prized possessions! Adults and children work in pairs to create a small treasure chest. Each adult and child team completes the process of measuring pieces, cutting parts to length, planing parts smooth, and constructing the treasure chest with a hammer and nails. No tools or experience required. This class is appropriate for children 5 to 11 with an adult.
Instructor Bio: Ryan Messier is a fine furniture and chairmaker located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Formal training at the North Bennet Street School provided a wide skill-set which, blended with Ryan’s artistic talents, has enabled him to create beautiful and intricate custom pieces. Ryan enjoys solving the challenges involved in the planning, designing, and building of beautiful furniture.
$75 per pair; $65 Concord Museum Members (includes all materials and tools). Please call (978) 369-9763, ext. 216 to sign up. Maximum of 10 adult/child pairs; All tools and materials provided by North Bennet Street School; This class is appropriate for children 5 to 11 with an adult.
Inaugural Sally Lanagan Lecture: Opening the Drawers: An Inside Look at the Concord Museum Collection presented by Brock Jobe
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
The Concord Museum is pleased to welcome Brock Jobe, a nationally renowned expert in early American furniture, as the inaugural speaker for the Concord Museum’s Sally Lanagan Lecture. Join Brock Jobe as he opens drawers, turns over tables, and unlocks the secrets of his favorite pieces in the Museum’s collection. Professor of American Decorative Arts at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Jobe is the author of numerous articles and books on American furniture and upholstery. He is also a leader of the collaborative project, Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture, of which the Museum’s exhibition, The Best Workman in the Shop: Cabinetmaker William Munroe of Concord, is a part. Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most fascinating pieces of furniture and unique wooden objects in the Concord Museum’s collection presented by one of the country’s most esteemed furniture scholars. 7:00 - 9:00 p.m., in French Hall. The lecture is free; by reservation only.
Meet the Craftsmen Family Day
Saturday, November 3, 2013 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The Concord Museum is partnering with craftsmen from Boston’s North Bennet Street School (NBSS) to engage visitors and families in dynamic hands-on activities with historic furniture. Program activities include furniture-making demonstrations, a newly-designed furniture hunt for children, hands-on craft area, and woodworking activities for children.
In the galleries of the exhibition, The Best Workman in the Shop: Craftsman William Munroe of Concord, NBSS craftsmen will be available to help visitors better understand the techniques behind Munroe’s exquisite craftsmanship – including decorative inlay and carving. Young visitors can take part in a special furniture hunt to learn more about the Concord Museum’s collection. In the craft area in the Museum’s Brooke Hall, families can make their own moon phase dial for a tall clock, inspired by Munroe’s clock cases. At woodworking stations, a NBSS craftsman will guide children as they learn techniques and skills such as carving, sanding, planning, and much more!
Introduction to Letter Carving
Saturday and Sunday, February 8 and 9, 2014
In this introductory two-day carving workshop, adult students learn incised letter carving. The workshop will cover choosing the correct wood and tools, tool sharpening, layout and carving techniques, including carving serif, sans-serif, and script lettering. No previous experience necessary.
Instructor Biography: Janet Collins has been a woodworker for more than 18 years. Her training was trial and error until she started taking woodworking workshops at North Bennet Street School in 1992. She enrolled in the full-time Cabinet and Furniture Making program in January of 1995 and started teaching workshops at the school upon graduation in 1996. Day 2 of the workshop is on Sunday, February 9, 2014, from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.
$150/person; $125/Concord Museum Members (includes all materials). Please call (978) 369-9763, ext. 216 to sign up. Maximum of 10 students; Pre-registration required; Students will need to provide their own tools (a list will be provided upon registration).