Diplomatic Reception Rooms at U.S. Department of State use Decorative Arts to Increase Understanding of Early American History
Decades ago, furniture and decorative arts contributed by Americana’s founders, Adolph and Ginger Meyer, served as a key part of the historic redecoration of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms in the Harry S. Truman Building in Washington DC that houses the U.S. Department of State. The Meyers contributed to the project to increase appreciation for early American furniture and decorative arts when diplomats and others visited the rooms for meetings or other events. Today the Diplomatic Reception Rooms (DRR) reflect American art and architecture from the period 1740 to 1840 and contain one of the most important collections of early Americana in the nation.
In February 2021, Americana continued its support for the DRR by awarding a grant to support the development of a ten-part video series that will help educators access, understand, and utilize the DRR’s collection of Americana. The videos will highlight specific items from DRR’s collection, such as Thomas Jefferson’s Architect’s Table and John Quincy Adams’ Writing Box, outline a learning strategy for each item, and feature educators demonstrating how object-based learning can be integrated into curricula. The videos will be augmented with high-resolution images and 3D scans of select items so students can explore the objects in greater detail on computers, tablets, and phones. The series will be posted on DRR’s new website when it launches in fall 2021.
DRR’s object-based learning program aims to empower educators to use items in DRR’s collection to help students understand important events in America’s history, practice diplomacy, become civically engaged, and place current events into historical context. The videos produced with Americana’s grant, along with feedback provided by educators, will serve to demonstrate the value of online assets such as videos, 3D scans, and virtual and augmented reality experiences in DRR’s ongoing effort to engage the community in Americana and America’s early history.
Americana is pleased to support DRR’s object-based learning program as a means of expanding access to the important and wonderful decorative arts in DRR’s collection and helping DRR become a leader in museum education.