The largest of the two is, “Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” (runs to October 14, 2012). The centerpiece is a shining statue of our third President, fronting a curved wall that displays the names of his slaves.
Equally moving, however, is the contrast of fates. On the one hand, Colonial elites lived the good life and the American economy benefited from enslaved labor. Jefferson studied Enlightenment Philosophy and wrote of life and liberty.
On the other hand, the growing institution of slavery. As one informational placard notes:
The people of Monticello and their descendants strove to make Jefferson’s ideals a reality. They believed in the truth of the Declaration, cherished the hope that it would one day be more than an ideal, and joined with – and often led – countless other African-Americans in the cause of liberty.
The strength of the exhibit is the look at the families. A family tree for the Hemings is a must see, as well as a map of where the families settled after they left Monticello. The Brown Colbert family moved to Washington, D.C.
Assisted by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture prepared the exhibit. They will be moving into the new museum building at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 14th Street.
As we were walking along Constitution Avenue, we could see the beginnings of the work starting for the new museum. The media-only groundbreaking ceremony takes place February 22nd with President Obama scheduled to provide the appropriate remarks (Live webcast)
The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, created by Thomas Jefferson in 1820, is an 84-page assemblage of passages from the first four books of the New Testament.
The book remained privately held throughout his life. Its existence was only known to a few of his closest circle of friends. The book remained in his family until his great-granddaughter sold the volume to the Smithsonian Institution in 1895.
Over the years, the book's condition became so fragile that it could no longer be safely handled or displayed. In 2011 the Museum completed a complex and challenging conservation project, which has made it possible to present the newly restored volume to scholars and the general public.