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The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) at Old Salem Museums & Gardens have embarked on a five-year collaboration that will involve extended reciprocal loans. The institutions got a head start on their agreement with the joint exhibition Painters and Paintings in the Early American South, which is currently on view at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Nine major paintings from MESDA’s collection are part of the exhibition while several objects from the Art Museums of Williamsburg’s holdings are already on view at MESDA.

The objects involved in the reciprocal loan agreement include clocks, high chests, paintings, silver coffee pots, and much more. Many of the objects from MESDA’s collection on loan to Colonial Williamsburg will be presented as part of the long-term exhibition A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South, which is expected to go on view at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, one of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, in January 2014. The show will present a range of furniture, silver, ceramics, textiles, tools, machines, and architectural elements.

Ronald L. Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president for collections, conservation, and museums and the Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator, said, “This is the age of partnerships. With partnerships everyone wins: the institutions, the public, the scholarly world…so why not do it? Both [the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and MESDA] have some remarkable objects temporarily off view. Why not show them at a sister institution?”

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