The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation operates the world’s largest living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA—the restored 18th-century capital of Britain’s largest, wealthiest, and most populous outpost of empire in the New World. Here we interpret the origins of the idea of America, conceived decades before the American Revolution. The Colonial Williamsburg story of a revolutionary city tells how diverse peoples, having different and sometimes conflicting ambitions, evolved into a society that valued liberty and equality.
The Foundation’s outstanding collections encompass more than 70,000 examples of fine, decorative, mechanical, and folk art. Included are American and British ceramics, glass, furniture, textiles, costumes, tools, firearms, numismatics, metals, toys, prints, maps, paintings, drawings, and architectural elements from the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as well as outstanding examples of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century American folk art. Many of these objects are used to furnish more than 200 rooms in Williamsburg's historic buildings, where they provide guests with a better understanding of life in early Virginia. Others are shown in innovative changing exhibitions at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg: the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.