Charleston Drawing Room, 1772 Cypress, paint Gift of James F. and Louise H. Bell in memory of James S. and Sallie M. Bell 27.78

The Many Voices of Colonial America

April 22, 2017 - June 17, 2018
Charleston Dining Room and Charleston Drawing Room, G336 and 337
Free Exhibition

The Charleston Dining and Drawing Rooms came from the 1772 home of Col. John Stuart, who served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Britain’s southern colonies and was also an owner of enslaved Africans. For over 80 years, the rooms have been interpreted as late-1700s interiors featuring high-style Chippendale and Federal-style American and English furniture and objects.

This new temporary exhibition replaces a stylistic approach by reinserting African and Native American presence in these spaces. In the Charleston Drawing Room, Cherokee art of the Colonial era and contemporary Cherokee art that responds to this moment of history reveal stories of diplomatic relations and travel between the Cherokee Nation and the British Crown. In the Charleston Dining Room, West African and African American objects tell important stories of Charleston’s dependence on enslaved West Africans’ indigenous knowledge of rice cultivation for commercial gain and as a source of nourishment during this time—foreshadowing the legacy of African cuisine in contemporary America.

This project is part of Living Rooms, an initiative to present Mia’s historic interiors and decorative arts collections in new ways.

Mia gratefully acknowledges the support and contributions of the many individuals and communities whose histories are told in this exhibition.

Generous support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and donors at the 2014 Mia Gala.

Additional support provided by The Chipstone Foundation.