A man, early abolitionist, and founding father Rufus King is the historical figure most would associate with King Manor, Rufus’ historic estate in Queens. This month, however, the house museum is celebrating the stories of women connected to the site. A new historical exhibit, Queens of King Manor, takes a critical look at the history and legacy of women in historic preservation using the King Manor museum’s founding as a case study. In an upcoming virtual tour of the exhibit with the museum’s Executive Director Kelsey Brow, you can see some of the unique artifacts on display and learn more about the woman who made the site what it is today!

Queens of King Manor exhibit

The exhibit, currently on display in the historic rooms of the home, delves into the history of the women who founded King Manor, their world, and the impact their work still carries in “pink collar” jobs today. Through various artifacts, the exhibit explores how material culture aligns with issues of early feminism, preservation, domestic practices, race, and class from the colonial era through the 20th century. A few of the special objects on display include a mourning portrait made of hair, a shaving kit that belonged to the Marquis de Lafayette, a very old (but maybe not as old as it seems) porcelain saucer, and 20th-century Women’s Club memorabilia.

Despite the challenges all museums faced during the year 2020, King Manor had cause to celebrate. Last year marked its 120th anniversary as a public museum! The anniversary aligned with the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote and was ratified on August 18th, 1920. The confluence of these two historic anniversaries and recent social activism movements, like the #metoo campaign, provided the opportunity for the museum to dive into the topics of women’s rights while recognizing that many women’s rights movements did not actually include all women.

Also in 2020, King Manor was awarded a grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to produce the museum’s first-ever exhibition catalogue. The publication of the Queens of King Manor catalogue will make King Manor Museum the first small historic house museum in New York City to have a professionally published academic
catalog. The catalogue will feature a selection of objects from the exhibit to provide a “greater understanding of women’s historic involvement in preserving early American history and how it relates to the social and political
issues facing America today.”

You can explore the Queens of King Manor exhibit in our upcoming virtual tour led by Executive Director Kelsey Brow! Tickets to this talk are just $10. You can gain access to unlimited free virtual events per month and unlock a video archive of 100+ past events as an Untapped New York Insider starting at $10/month. Already an Insider? Register here! Can’t make it live? Register for this virtual talk and we’ll email you a recording of it after it ends!

Portrait made of hair at King Manor

Queens of King Manor Exhibit Tour

Queens of King Manor will be on view through the weekend of April 30th, 2021. King Manor is currently open to visitors by reservation only during three-time slots available daily. The museum is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays for deep cleaning. You can make a reservation to visit online, here! Admission is a suggested donation of $5.

Next, check out The 8 Oldest Buildings in Queens