The Object of History: 18th-Century Treasures from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

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What is the meaning of historical objects? Why are they preserved, and why have they survived? Are they valued for their associations with notable historical figures or landmark events, as objects of beauty, as the survival of relics from a distant past, or for the stories they convey? The Object of History explores these questions through the display of 18th-century portraits and objects from the Society's collections, along with rarely seen engravings, needlework, maps, weapons, furniture, clothing, scientific instruments, and silver.

Visitors can view items such as the ca. 1765 scarlet wool cloak worn by Peter Oliver, the chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; a Queen Anne-style church chair that became the property of Paul Revere, whose descendant embroidered the lion and unicorn design for the upholstered seat; and a mahogany cellaret with lead-lined interior fittings owned by Benjamin Faneuil, the brother of Boston's great benefactor Peter Faneuil.