August 25, 2019

New Interactive Tour Brings Gari Melchers Home & Studio to Life

Gari Melchers Home & Studio has recently turned our traditional historic house tour on its ear.  Led by education and communications manager Michelle Crow-Dolby, the standard 30-minute, guided docent monologue has been torn apart and put back together in a whole new way.

The historic house tour begins with this view looking out over the village of Falmouth and this quote from Gari Melchers, “On my return to Fredericksburg, I walked through the house and opening the back door, looked down the hill across the fields and the river. The beauty of Virginia made me wonder how I could have ever left it even for a winter.”

One of the best preserved artist homes and working studios in the United States, Gari Melchers Home & Studio (GMHS) gives visitors a glimpse back in time when internationally famous painter, Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne, inhabited their country retreat and gentleman’s farm up the hill in Falmouth overlooking the falls of the Rappahannock River. The elegant 1790s Colonial Revival mansion is crammed with the couple’s belongings. The authentic power of place and creativity found at GMHS is palpable.

“My goal throughout this process was to create a more guest-driven, interactive, exploratory, sensory-rich experience,” explains Crow-Dolby.  “Staff provide the tour’s basic framework and the rest is a collaboration with our visitors who explore what they are drawn to and stories that interest them.” We, in the words of Frank Vagnone, author of the Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums, “Tell a story without someone telling the story for them.”

New tour elements include the addition of ambient sounds (i.e., music, clock ticking, farm noises, dogs barking) that capture what the Melchers would have heard during their residency at Belmont.  Open-ended questions replace rote delivery of dates and facts. Docents and guests spend more time exploring together how Gari and Corinne Melchers made a home that reflected their artistic and eclectic sensibilities. Visitors are given more freedom to explore, enter rooms, snap pictures and engage in conversation. As one veteran docent observed, “Our guests can, in effect, create their own tour.”

“I hope our newly re-imagined house tour will continue to be a work in progress and not a static product,” says Crow-Dolby. “Visitor and staff feedback will continue to inform our process and evolution.”

Belmont Hosts Talk on Venetian Culture

Gari Melchers Home and Studio hosts A Glorious and Beautiful Show, a richly-illustrated talk on the remarkable visual culture of Renaissance Venice, Italy, presented by UMW Professor of Art History Julia A. DeLancey on August 25 in the Pavilion at Belmont, 2 PM. Admission is free of charge.

DeLancey will explore the art of such legendary giants as Bellini and Titian and the hand-blown glass and rich textiles for which the city is renowned. Because color was at the heart of all these crafts, DeLancey will also touch upon Venice’s involvement in the trade of coloring materials and the challenges currently faced by the lagoon city in preserving this precious cultural heritage.

DeLancey, who holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of St. Andrews, has recently published “Celebrated Citizenship: Titian’s portrait of the Color Seller Alvise Gradignan della Scala and Social Status in Early Modern Venice” in Studi Veneziani, 2017.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Virginia, a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio Hosts Beeping Egg Hunt

Gari Melchers Home & Studio will host its eighth annual Beeping Egg Hunt on Sunday, April 14 from 2 – 4 p.m.

The egg hunt provides an opportunity for visually impaired and blind children, along with their families, to participate in an accessible audible egg hunt. Sighted siblings can also participate by wearing a blindfold.  This free event will run from 2-4 p.m.

Gari Melchers Home & Studio holds its Beeping Egg Hunt on April 14.

Gari Melchers Home & Studio hosts its Beeping Egg Hunt on Sunday, April 14.

“Every spring I look forward to organizing and planning the Beeping Egg Hunt and related activities,” says Education and Communications Manager Michelle Crow-Dolby.  “I enjoy seeing familiar faces and welcoming new families.  I am especially thankful for volunteer event assistance from James Monroe High School students and the Lions Club and for Wegmans’ food donation.”

The specially designed plastic eggs, donated by Stafford County-based International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, emit a beeping sound that allows children to retrieve the eggs using their hearing. The event also includes a miniature animal petting zoo, sensory crafts, gallery activities, and Wegmans-sponsored healthy snacks.

During the 1920s and 30s, Corinne Melchers, with her husband’s encouragement, hosted Easter parties for area children at their Belmont home featuring egg rolls, puppet shows, and plenty of favors.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Va., a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Michelle Crow-Dolby at mdolby@umw.edu or 540-654-1851.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio to Offer Memory Loss Art Program

Gari Melchers Home and Studio and the Alhzeimer’s Association are partnering to present Picturing New Connections:  An art program for people with memory loss and their caregivers on Thursday, March 7 at 10:30 a.m.

“I recognized a need in our region for a museum-based memory loss program and have been researching and developing a blueprint, on and off, for a few years now,” says Education and Communications Manager Michelle Crow-Dolby.  This Picturing New Connections pilot study will combine sensory-rich guided discussions in Gari Melchers’ studio with an art making experience afterwards.”

Inspired and guided by the original Meet Me at MoMA  model, museums across the country are working to create arts engagement programs for people with Alzheimer’s Disease, along with their family members and care givers, to explore and discuss art.  Studies have shown that engaging with art in a social setting has a therapeutic effect on individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia.

“Social engagement programs such as this one promote social interaction and companionship by offering a fun and comfortable way for people living in the early to middle stage of Alzheimer’s or other dementia to get out, get active and get connected with one another through a variety of social events and community-based activities tailored to individual needs and interests of the participants,” according to Lori Myers of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Admission is $5 per person. To register, please contact Lori Myers, Director, Fredericksburg Office, Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Richmond Chapter at lmyers@alz.org or 540-228-1502.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Virginia, a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge.

Free Holiday Admission for UMW Families

UMW employees and their immediate family members will be admitted to Gari Melchers Home and Studio and the James Monroe Museum free of charge (UMW ID required) during the winter break (December 19 – December 30), and are eligible for 20% off Museum Store purchases.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio In the News

Our timeless tale of love makes us #12:12 ways a visit to the Fredericksburg region will surprise you.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio in the News

Deemed “well worth the drive,” Gari Melchers Home and Studio is featured in Culture Trip‘s article “Artists’ Home and Studios You Can Visit in Washington, DC.”

Gari Melchers Home and Studio

Gari Melchers Home & Studio in the News

Gari Melchers Home and Studio has been showing up in the news this month! Visit the links below to find out more.

How to get your best fall photos in the Fredericksburg region (Call Me Fred, October 24, 2017)

Stepping into the Fredericksburg Time Machine (Boomer Magazine, October 13, 2017)

12 Reasons Why You’ll Fall for Fredericksburg (Huffington Post, October 16, 2017)

Dolby Joins Board

Andrew S. Dolby recently joined the Friends of the Rappahannock’s Executive Committee as a board member. Dolby currently works with FOR staff and volunteers to learn more about the birds living in or visiting our area through a research project on the Rappahannock River. Also, on June 3, Dolby will lead a 2-mile walk along the Rappahannock with the Fredericksburg Birding Club, a chapter of the Virginia Society of Ornithology, as part of the Rock the River event.

Jepson Celebrates Painter Gari Melchers’ Work, Contributions

From DoSavannah, 8.24.16

“The artist Gari Melchers may not exactly be a household name these days, but he was an exceedingly accomplished and successful painter in his time and is certainly deserving of more attention than he’s received since his death nearly a century ago.

“One Hundred Years of Harmony: Paintings by Gari Melchers,” which opens at Aug. 26 the Jepson Center, is a chance to sample some of this peripatetic painter’s work and learn more about his life and his contributions to Telfair’s own collection.” MORE