Amassed and Up-ended: Decoding the Legacy of Stuff

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tree fungus carved by Rowland Evans Robinson
Amassed and Up-ended: Decoding the Legacy of Stuff
(2019 seasonal exhibit: July 14–October 27)

With objects, artworks and documents representing four generations of the Robinson family who lived at Rokeby from 1793 to 1961, Amassed and Up-ended explores the ways in which what we save over a lifetime gives voice to some of our stories and silences others. The exhibit features Robinson family paintings, heirlooms, and items used in everyday life that are usually spread throughout the densely furnished historic home that is central to Rokeby Museum. Curated and re-arranged in a gallery setting, what do these items tell us about this family of artists, farmers and abolitionists? Some objects inform us. Do others keep their secrets or even lead us astray? What of your life is likely to be saved, and what will it tell of you?

hair clipping from Jemima Robinson

What happens when four generations of one family live out their lives in the same house? Lots of things happen, of course, including the accumulation of a lot of stuff. 

In the case of Rokeby Museum, from 1793 to 1961 four generations of the Robinson family lived in the historic home that is now one of the center pieces of this National Historic Landmark designated for its well-documented Underground Railroad history. 

anna stevens robinson

“In the end,” says Museum director Catherine Brooks, “we hope the exhibit gives our visitors the opportunity to think about how what we save over a lifetime gives voice to our stories.  Twenty-first century America offers a seemingly endless array of things to surround ourselves with. Yet much of that accumulation ends up in yard sales. What really matters, and what is worth saving?”

The Museum’s 2019 special exhibit features a unique gallery exhibition inviting visitors to meet each generation of this remarkable family of farmers, abolitionists, artists, writers and home-makers.