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The Art of the Sacred explores the relationship between religion and the visual arts - and vice versa - within Christianity and other major religious traditions. It identifies and describes the main historical, theological, sociological and aesthetic dimensions of 'religious' art, with particular attention to 'popular' as well as 'high' culture, and within societies of the developing world.
                                   
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Pilgrim Hall
The Nation's Oldest Museum

by
Bob Brooke

 

The hazardous voyage, the 1620 landing, the fearful first winter, the First Thanksgiving at Plymouth—all come alive at the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrim’s dramatic saga of courage and perseverance has inspired Americans through monumental historical paintings and objects belonging to the Pilgrims, themselves.

Pilgrim Hall houses the nation’s largest collection of objects that belonged to the Plymouth colonists, from simple household furnishings which reflect the austerity of their lives to rare and colorful 17th-century portraits.

In 1620 the Pilgrims left England on the Mayflower with hopes for a new life in the New World. Little is known of the actual voyage but visitors can see the objects that accompanied them on their journey across the Atlantic.



Even though they resided in this new land, the Pilgrims were still good Englishmen. One of the their company, Edward Winslow, traveled back and forth to England as their representative. His portrait. which he had painted in London while on a diplomatic mission, is the only known likeness of a Mayflower passenger.

Furniture such as the finely turned chair belonging to Governor William Bradford evokes the Pilgrims austere way of life. Objects such as mortar and pestles for grinding herbs, muskets for hunting and self-defense lighting devices and tools for house building attest to the challenges this hardy group encountered in New World.

Paintings, such as Henry Sargent’s heroic 13-by-16-foot “Landing of the Pilgrims” and Jennie Brownscombe’s “First Thanksgiving,” commemorating their departure from England and their arrival in the New World, hang in the museum’s galleries.

The "Sparrow Hawk", a rare example of 17th-century shipbuilding, is one of many fascinating artifacts on display at Pilgrim Hall. Less than half the size of the Pilgrims' ship "Mayflower," the 40-foot vessel is the only relic of its kind in this country to provide first-hand information about the type of ships which discovered, explored, and supplied the colony.

With about 30 persons aboard, The Sparrow Hawk wrecked off Cape Cod during the winter of 1626. Within a few years, the shifting sands had completely submerged the tiny craft. Archaeologists discovered the remains of the ship in 1863, and they later reassembled and exhibited it on Boston Common. In 1889, the City of Boston gave the relic to the Pilgrim Society in 1889 where it has been on exhibit in Pilgrim Hall ever since.

As the nation’s oldest continuously operating public museum, first opening in 1824, Pilgrim Hall contains an unmatched collection of Pilgrim possessions telling the story of brave and determined men and women building lives and homes for themselves and their children in the New World.

View the real things used by the Pilgrim fathers and mothers brought to the New World—the sword of Captain Miles Standish, the Bible of John Alden, the cradle of New England’s first–born, Peregrine White, the great chair of William Brewster, and the earliest sampler made in America, embroidered by Myles Standish’s daughter.

Also see William Bradford’s Bible, Myles Standish’s sword, the only portrait of a Pilgrim (Edward Winslow) painted from life, and the earliest sampler made in America, embroidered by Myles Standish’s daughter.

Pilgrim Hall also tells the story of the Wampanoag, or "People of the Dawn," the Native Americans who inhabited the area for 10,000 years before the arrival of the Pilgrims and who still live the area today.

Pilgrim Hall Museum is located one block from Plymouth Harbor at 175 Court St.,(Rte. 3A)The museum is open daily 9:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. February - December. Closed Christmas and New Year's Day (508) 746-1620.

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