Fine and Decorative Arts
Newport’s grand houses display rich collections of fine and decorative art, revealing three centuries of American cultural evolution. Throughout the eleven properties owned and operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County a vast array of fine and decorative art, such as Colonial American furniture, Chinese porcelains, and European paintings, are displayed in period settings. The collections include original objects and items collected by the late owners of the houses.
The Preservation Society’s Archival Collection consists of documents, photographs, ledgers, and inventories detailing the social and architectural history of Newport. Dating primarily from the early 19th century on, these historical records are an invaluable resource for staff, scholars and researchers. These materials are important resources that provide a more comprehensive understanding of the people, houses and culture of Newport.
Textile and Fashion Arts
The Preservation Society’s diverse costume and fashion arts collection is made up of over 7000 objects. From ball gowns and bathing costumes to hats, shoes, fans, and parasols, these very personal objects provide a unique window onto another age, lending insight into what life was like for many of the occupants of Newport grand summer cottages during the Gilded Age and beyond. While the collection has a concentration of objects from the 1880s through the 1920s, representative pieces trace the history of dress and fashion in Newport from the early nineteenth century through the present day. The following costumes are representative examples of some of the late 19th and early 20th century costumes in the collection.