Just Imported: Global Trade in 1700s New England
April 22, 2017 - November 29, 2020
Providence Parlor, G335
The Providence Parlor once occupied prime real estate on a wharf in 1700s Providence, Rhode Island. Its owners, brothers Joseph and William Russell, operated a prosperous merchant business that imported and exported goods by sea. Their store, The Sign of the Golden Eagle, offered a resplendent selection of imported fabrics, exotic spices, fine housewares, and hogsheads of rum, among other goods. Their market was the world, and the world, their market, made possible by trade winds, war profiteering, and the labor of enslaved people.
With their wealth, the Russell Brothers built the first three-story home in Providence, with views of the harbor. Originally installed at Mia in 1923, the parlor, along with its original inhabitants and harborside location, is brought back to life through a naturalistic soundscape, multi-sensory discovery cabinet of mercantile curios, and animated shadow puppets.
This project is part of Living Rooms, an initiative to present Mia’s historic interiors and decorative arts collections in new ways.
Generous support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and donors at the 2014 Mia Gala.
Additional support provided by The Chipstone Foundation.