“I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy , Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children right to study Painting, Poetry, Music, Architecture, Statuary,Tapestry and Porcelaine.”
John Adams’ quote in 1780 prophetically illustrates the diverse elements that would come together to create the museum collections of the Adams NHP. The park is comprised of 13 acres, 11 buildings and a collection comprising approximately 100,000 objects including original furnishings, books, archival materials and archeology donated by the family in 1946. The park encompasses not only the Old House (the Adams Family Mansion, c 1730) with its “objects of significance” but the birthplaces (two 17th Century saltbox structures) of two presidents:John Adams (1797-1801) and John Quincy Adams (1825-1829).
The original portion of the Old House was built in the first half of the eighteenth century and each subsequent generation altered it to their taste. The home was associated with the Adams family for over a century and a half from 1787 to 1946. In making this gift to the American people, the intention of the Adams family was that the area be preserved as a historic site to "foster civic virtue and patriotism."
The collection serves to interpret the Adams family’s history that includes two presidents, First Ladies, writers and historians over five generations and illustrates the changing relationship of the artifacts to the family members. The artifacts, historic structures, and historic landscape reflect the family’s experiences and represents, shapes, and mirrors the significant events in the social, cultural, political, and intellectual history of the nation.
The historic integrity of the park and associative collections are superior. Ninety-nine percent of the objects associated with the family are original artifacts, while the remaining are reproduction upholstery, bedspreads and wallpaper. Many elements of the collection are significant in their own right, apart from the historic structures and objects’ associative history. This is particularly true of the American paintings by William Morris Hunt, Edward Savage, Mather Brown, and John Trumbull. The American furniture includes an American Queen Anne Highboy, Grecian card table attributed to Thomas Seymour as well as Federal style mahogany banquet table. European furniture comprising of Dutch Chairs, French Secretary, and Louis XV Settee and Chairs represent John Adams’ diplomatic service to the nation in France and Holland.
The collection also includes, 17th Century Primitive American Paintings, American and European decorative arts, architectural elements, an associated archeological collection, 19th Century photographs, Print Collection, and an archives collection.
Last updated: February 21, 2022