Remembering Springfield’s Victorian Opulence

Exhibit Shows How the Rich & Famous Lived in Springfield

Exploring the lives of the rich and famous of Springfield’s past, the Springfield Museums’ newest exhibit is made up of items demonstrating the luxury with which Victorian-era elite lived their lives. Explore the exhibit to use material culture as a lens for learning about the people behind Springfield’s 19th century economic success!

For some members of 19th century Springfield’s community, the Victorian Era was an especially lavish and luxurious time. Artifacts from the results of the booming industries of 1800’s Springfield are showcased currently at a newly opened exhibit at the Springfield Museums. Titled, “Victorian Opulence: Springfield’s Industrial Elite,” the exhibit includes a wide variety of high-end items once owned and used by some of the most prosperous families of Victorian-era Springfield.

Open through early April of 2016, the exhibit uses examination of material culture to teach about the city’s industrial history and provides a look at day-to-day life in the households of the time period’s most elite. The items included in the exhibit – everything from top hats and jewelry to ornate grandfather clocks – project an obvious air of wealth, and their origins speak volumes to the economic privilege that their owners enjoyed.

Many of the men and women who once owned the items displayed in the exhibit played roles not only in Springfield’s industrial development, but left their mark on western Massachusetts through their philanthropic pursuits as well. Former economic great George Walter Vincent, for example, left a lasting mark in the form of Forest Park.

Of course, though the exhibit displays simply the lavish nature of high society in 19th century Springfield, there was much more to the city’s communities than just wealth. Historic images of Springfield’s late Victorian-era schools, theater, homes, and commercial buildings can help to serve as a reminder of the lives lead by more average citizens of the city.

The exhibit is located in the Springfield Museums’ Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, and can be visited Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sunday from 11am-5pm. The Springfield Museums are located at 21 Edwards Street. More information is available by calling 800-625-7738.

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