This Week @MHS

Here is a look at what is going on at the MHS this week:

  • On Monday, 4 February, at 6:00 PM: Mentioning Unmentionables: An Exploration of Victorian Underclothes with Astrida Schaeffer. Nineteenth century fashion shaped and added to the body in a variety of ways. This inside tour of the myths and realities of Victorian corsets, crinolines, bustles and more introduces ladies who challenge our stereotype of the tiny-waisted, fainting Victorian woman, shares what critics thought of these fashion trends, and reveals the clever illusions that made waists seem smaller than they really were. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).
  • On Tuesday, February, at 5:15 PM: Colonial Mints & the Rise of Technocratic Expertise in the British Atlantic, 1650-1715 with Mara Caden, MHS-NEH Fellow, and comment by Penelope Ismay, Boston College. Governors, assemblies, and inhabitants of Britain’s American colonies routinely tried to set up mints to coin money during the seventeenth century, including in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This paper explains why every effort to establish a mint in British America failed, with the exception of the Boston mint, and why the mint in Boston was shut down in the 1680s. It explores the ways in which the Officers of the Royal Mint employed technical knowledge to curtail monetary autonomy in Britain’s overseas dominions. Finally, it examines the rise and fall of a strategy that colonial governments used to try to attract foreign coins to their shores in lieu of minting their own money. This is part of the Boston Area Seminar on Early American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.
  • On Wednesday, 6 February, at 12:00 PM: To Make a Breathing Picture: John Singleton Copley’s Disturbingly Vital Portraits in Enlightened Boston with Caroline Culp, Stanford University. This talk uncovers a peculiar desire of mid-18th century art: to make pictures so realistic they seemed to live and breathe. Focusing on Boston artist John Singleton Copley and poet Phillis Wheatley, among other cultural figures, it explores superstitious beliefs that lingered in an enlightened, empirical, and rational citizenry. This is part of the Brown-bag lunch programBrown-bags are free and open to the public.
  • On Saturday, 9 February, at 10:00 AMThe History & Collections of the MHS. This is a 90-minute docent-led walk through of our public rooms. The tour is free and open to the public. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or


Fashioning the New England Family is open Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The exhibition explores the ways in which the multiple meanings of fashion and fashionable goods are reflected in patterns of consumption and refashioning, recycling, and retaining favorite family pieces. Many of the items that will be featured have been out of sight, having never been exhibited for the public or seen in living memory. The exhibition is organized as part of Mass Fashion, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts.

Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.