August 6–8,  2021


A Special Place in Time: Preserving Memories through Southern Decorative Arts
Offered online as a virtual event.
If you registered and you’re having difficulty accessing the sessions, please email events@hnoc.org for assistance.

Today we live in a world of rapid change and endless self-documentation. Through smartphones and social media, people have come to document their lives as they’re living them, amassing heaps of digital debris that are quickly forgotten. There was a time, though, when the recording of life’s events held a deeper significance, when cherished physical items served as a connective fabric between the past and the future.   

The 2021 New Orleans Antiques Forum will explore how southerners documented those special moments in time through various forms, including silver, ceramics, engravings, furniture, textiles, and more. This year’s forum will be a virtual event, with pre-recorded sessions and live Q&As. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from and connect with noted experts as we celebrate the many different vessels of memory that give shape to our lives. 

This year’s forum will take place virtually through Zoom. Registration opens June 15, and admission starts at $20. 


This year, we’re bringing the New Orleans Antiques Forum to you! Each evening, starting Thursday, August 5, you’ll receive an email containing links to the next day’s prerecorded presentations. Watch the videos on your own, and the next day at 5 p.m. Central Time, we’ll gather live on Zoom to chat with each other and the experts and to discuss that day’s presentations.

Welcome Remarks
Daniel Hammer, President and CEO of The Historic New Orleans Collection, and Jack Pruitt, Director of Development

Time Traveling to a Special Place
Tom Savage, Director of Educational Travel and Conferences, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

The Presence of the Past
Mark Ferguson, Founding Partner, Ferguson & Shamamian Architects
Note: This talk will not be available for viewing after Friday, August 6.

Invisible Patina: Family, History, Memory and Mystery in Southern Furniture
Daniel Kurt Ackermann; Chief Curator and Director of Research, Collections, and Archaeology; Old Salem Museums and Gardens and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts

Memories and Memorials: Public and Private Expressions of Attainment and Loss
John H. Lawrence, Curator Emeritus, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Friday, August 6, 5–6:30 pm Central Time
Virtual Happy Hour Q&A with Friday’s speakers. Bring your questions and cocktails!


“All My Coat of Arms China”: Armorial Ceramics in America
Ron Fuchs II, Senior Curator, Reeves Collection of Ceramics at Washington and Lee University

Southern Stories, National Icons: The Women Who Saved the Washington Relics at Arlington, presented by the Decorative Arts Trust
Hannah Boettcher, Manager of Special Programs, Museum of the American Revolution

New Acquisitions at The Historic New Orleans Collection
Lydia Blackmore, Decorative Arts Curator, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Impressions of Life on the Mississippi: The Reality and Myths through Printed Images
Christopher W. Lane, Owner, The Philadelphia Print Shop West

Saturday, August 7, 5–6:30 pm Central Time
Virtual Happy Hour Q&A with Saturday’s speakers. Bring your questions and cocktails!


Documenting Gulf South Memories: Family Artifacts Catalogued by the Decorative Arts of the Gulf South Project
Sarah Duggan, DAGS Coordinator and Research Curator, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Remembrance of Things Past: Jewelry, Memory, and Self-Presentation
Emily Stoehrer, Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“The Devotion and Affection of a Grateful People": American Presentation Silver
Beth Carver Wees, Curator Emerita of the American Wing, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sunday, August 8, 5–6:30 pm Central Time
Virtual Happy Hour Q&A with Sunday’s speakers. Bring your questions and cocktails!



Daniel Kurt Ackermann

Invisible Patina: Family, History, Memory, and Mystery in Southern Furniture
Patina. In the marketplace, the right kind of patina can make or break an object. Often, we think of patina as something that is only skin deep—something we can see. But what if it is also something that we can feel, left by those who made, used, cherished, and preserved an object over time? In this lecture we will look beneath the surface at how family, history, and memory lend meaning—and occasionally mystery—to cherished pieces of southern furniture.

Daniel Kurt Ackermann is chief curator and director of collections, research, and archaeology at Old Salem Museums and Gardens and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA). He also directs the MESDA Summer Institute, a graduate-level program partnership between the museum and the University of Virginia. Ackermann has curated a wide range of exhibits at the museum, including “Black and White all Mix’d Together”: The Hidden Legacy of Enslaved Craftsmen and Our Spirited Ancestors: The Decorative Art of Drink. As curator of MESDA, Ackermann has also managed the renovation and reinstallation of the museum’s study galleries and oversaw the addition of two new self-guided galleries. He serves as the American secretary for the Regional Furniture Society of Great Britain.

Ackermann began his career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where he was the Tiffany & Co. Foundation curatorial intern in American decorative arts. He holds degrees from the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia, and a PhD in art history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Lydia BlackmoreNew Acquisitions at The Historic New Orleans Collection
The Historic New Orleans Collection actively collects books, documents, art, and artifacts relating to the history and culture of New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Gulf South. Blackmore will present some highlights of gifts and purchases from the last year.

Lydia Blackmore has been the decorative arts curator at The Historic New Orleans Collection since 2014. She earned an MA and a certificate in museum studies from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware; she also holds a degree in history from the College of William and Mary. Blackmore has worked as a curator, researcher, and cataloger for private collectors and at institutions such as Colonial Williamsburg, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and the US Supreme Court. As the first decorative arts curator at THNOC, Blackmore is working to expand, conserve, and research the three-dimensional holdings. She is also responsible for the Williams Residence, the home of founders L. Kemper and Leila Williams. She has curated or cocurated several exhibitions, including It’s Only Natural: Flora and Fauna in Louisiana Decorative Arts; Goods of Every Description: Shopping in New Orleans, 1825–1925; Pieces of History: Ten Years of Decorative Arts Fieldwork (now on view); and the upcoming Art and Artistry of Mardi Gras.


Hannah Boettcher

Southern Stories, National Icons: The Women Who Saved the Washington Relics at Arlington, presented by the Decorative Arts Trust
On August 15, 1906, Mary Custis Lee (1835–1918) declared her intention to sell George Washington’s wartime tents as “Sacred Relics to Aid Charity,” part of a collection only recently returned to her family by the US government. What were this proud Virginian’s motivations to curate (and deaccession) her collection? How did her experiences growing up at Arlington House, surrounded by this Revolutionary inheritance until 1861, affect her choice? Did this decision honor her mother’s and grandparents’ reverence for these objects as American icons? Since Martha Custis Washington’s death in 1802, her descendants have strategized to address public curiosity about items used by the Custis-Washington family at Mount Vernon. Most famously, George Washington Parke Custis interpreted his collection at Arlington to make national headlines. But three generations of women who lived there, free and enslaved, operated more privately to document the relics and communicate their values to future generations. For Mary Fitzhugh Custis, Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee, Selina Gray, and Mary Custis Lee, establishing provenance was a personal and political issue before and after the American Civil War. At key moments between 1802 and 1918, these women took sometimes practical, and sometimes visionary, action to preserve the Washington relics for public viewership in museums. These new homes for the relics can still be traced as a modern pilgrimage route for visitors today.

Hannah Boettcher is the Manager of Special Programs at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her MA from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware and her BFA in painting and art history from Washington University in St. Louis. Her talk and recent article, coauthored with Ronald W. Fuchs II, “Martha Washington’s ‘United States China’: A New Link Found in a Family Notebook,” in Ceramics in America (2020) continues her MA thesis research and public interpretation work for the First Oval Office Project at the Museum of the American Revolution. Boettcher was a Decorative Arts of the Gulf South (DAGS) fellow with The Historic New Orleans Collection in 2015.


Sarah DugganDocumenting Gulf South Memories: Family Artifacts Cataloged by the Decorative Arts of the Gulf South Project
Since 2011, Decorative Arts of the Gulf South (DAGS) fieldwork teams have traveled across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama documenting historic objects in family collections. These artifacts of nineteenth-century life often represent sentimental memories or major life events. From samplers to portraits to heirloom cradles, the DAGS free online database offers hundreds of glimpses into the past. In particular, a quilt and livery coat currently on view in the exhibit Pieces of History: Ten Years of Decorative Arts Fieldwork reveal histories of the Whitfield and Mercer families, connecting a web of memorable decorative objects.

Sarah Duggan is the coordinator and research curator of the Decorative Arts of the Gulf South (DAGS) project at The Historic New Orleans Collection. As the first full-time DAGS staff at THNOC, she directs graduate fellows in summer decorative arts documentation fieldwork and conducts year-round research and data management for the DAGS database. She is a cocurator of the current THNOC exhibition Pieces of History. Duggan holds a master’s degree from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture and a bachelor’s in history and religious studies from the College of William and Mary. She previously worked in research and public engagement at the New York Transit Museum, the US Capitol Visitor Center, and Colonial Williamsburg.


Mak FergusonThe Presence of the Past
For thirty-two years, Ferguson and Shamamian Architects has built its award-winning practice by adapting traditional architecture to modern life. Having met while working at the interior decoration firm Parish-Hadley, founding partners Mark Ferguson and Oscar Shamamian rely upon collaborations with interior decorators and landscape architects to realize a client’s vision. Join Mark Ferguson as he opens the doors to some of the firm’s iconic projects and shares behind-the-scenes insights. He will address how the firm weaves the historical and cultural context of a place with a client’s vision of how they want to live—resulting in residences that honor the past while remaining relevant today.

Mark Ferguson is a founding partner of Ferguson and Shamamian Architects, a practice formed in 1988 and located in New York. The firm specializes in traditional residential design and works nationally and internationally. Their completed projects are frequently published and have been recognized with several notable awards. Ferguson has been a member of the board of directors of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art since 1992 and served as its chairman from 2014 to 2016.

Ferguson received a bachelor of architecture from Carnegie Mellon University in 1978 and a master of architecture from Princeton University in 1982. His early work on renovations to houses in Tuxedo Park and Croton-on-Hudson introduced him to the practice of new traditional architecture. The experience led to a position at Parish-Hadley Associates, where he collaborated with interior decorators and artisans in the creation of new residences guided by traditional design principles. He met Oscar Shamamian there, and after three years they established a practice to fill an underserved need and to demonstrate the authority of tradition in good design.


Ron Fuchs II“All My Coat of Arms China”: Armorial Ceramics in America
This talk will look at the range of ceramics decorated with coats of arms and other personalized symbols from the beginning of European colonization of North America in 1607 and explore how such ceramics were used and what they meant to their owners and viewers.

Ron Fuchs II is senior curator of the Reeves Museum of Ceramics at Washington and Lee University, where he has worked for the last thirteen years. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and the Winterthur Program in Early American Material Culture at the University of Delaware and worked at Winterthur for ten years prior to moving to the Reeves Museum. He is a past president and chair of the American Ceramic Circle and co-editor of Ceramics in America.


Christopher W, LaneImpressions of Life on the Mississippi: The Reality and Myths through Printed Images
In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the Mississippi River was the scene of abundant prosperity and richness of culture, but also of great hardship and cruel deprivation. The most important visual source of information about life along the river—from rough frontier towns to the sophistication of New Orleans—consisted of engravings and lithographs widely distributed throughout the country and overseas. Many prints were based on first-hand observations and were intended to accurately document scenes along the Mississippi. Others, however, were produced not as objective depictions, but rather for a subjective impression based on a good bit of fabrication, showing life on the Mississippi that was at least as much myth as reality. This lecture will consider both aspects of prints of life on the Mississippi.

Christopher W. Lane is owner of The Philadelphia Print Shop West in Denver, Colorado. Lane has worked in the antique print and map business for forty years and has come to be recognized as one of the country’s experts in this field, as evidenced by his twenty-two-year stint as print and map expert on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow.

Lane has curated museum exhibitions and written several books, including the Ewell L. Newman Award–winning Panorama of Pittsburgh, as well as numerous articles in books and magazines. He has also lectured around the country and overseas on topics such as antique maps, Currier and Ives, and historical prints.


John LawrenceMemories and Memorials: Public and Private Expressions of Attainment and Loss
Objects created to remember a person, event, milestone, or moment can take many forms and serve purposes never specifically envisioned by the maker. Memorials take various forms, from architecture and sculpture to jewelry and photographs. This presentation offers a look at examples of memorializing people and events, both public and private, from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. The emphasis is on those pertaining to New Orleans and Louisiana, addressing the variety of forms used to convey the chosen message.

Curator emeritus John H. Lawrence retired in December 2020 as director of museum programs at The Historic New Orleans Collection, where he was responsible for planning and implementing museum exhibitions, lectures, seminars, and related activities. He was also the head of curatorial collections, having oversight of pictorial and object holdings numbering in excess of five hundred thousand items. In forty-five years at THNOC, the New Orleans native held the positions of curator of photographs and senior curator as well. Lawrence has written and lectured widely about aspects of contemporary and historic photography as well as the administration and preservation of pictorial collections. He has served as principal or guest curator for dozens of exhibitions on a variety of photographic, artistic, and general historical topics. Lawrence led the team of curators that prepared the opening exhibitions at THNOC’s new Brulatour exhibition center at 520 Royal Street, which opened in April 2019.


Tom SavageTime Traveling to a Special Place
After sixteen exciting years at Winterthur, forum moderator Tom Savage is returning to his native Virginia to take on the role of director of educational travel and conferences for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Join Savage as he reminisces on what this special place, the world’s largest outdoor history museum, has meant to him from earliest childhood and how it shaped his career. Savage will also preview recent developments at Colonial Williamsburg, including the 65,000-square-foot expansion of the art museums and the First Baptist Church excavation project that is examining the site of one of the country’s earliest African American congregations, founded by free and enslaved black worshippers in the eighteenth century. There are many exciting changes and much new research involving Virginia’s colonial capital and its special place in time.

Tom Savage was recently appointed director of educational travel and conferences for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, following a sixteen-year career at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library as director of museum affairs and director of external affairs. From 1998 to 2005 he was senior vice president and director of Sotheby’s Institute of Art, where he directed the Sotheby’s American Arts Course, and from 1981 to 1998 he served as curator and director of museums for the Historic Charleston Foundation.

A native of Virginia, Savage received a BA in art history from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in history museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program of the State University of New York. The author of The Charleston Interior (1995) and numerous articles and essays, Savage currently serves on the board of governors of the Decorative Arts Trust. He is a former trustee of the Royal Oak Foundation, the Attingham Summer School, and the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation. In addition, he served as a presidential appointee to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House from 1993 to 2002.


Dr. Emily StoehrerRemembrance of Things Past: Jewelry, Memory, and Self-Presentation
Jewelry is a powerful vehicle for memory. As tokens of affection, objects of remembrance, and gifts of celebration, jewelry is given to mark important events in our lives. Presented at the birth of a child, a wedding, an anniversary, or even the death of a loved one, like Proust’s madeleine, jewelry conjures memories of the moments it was given and who gave it. These ornaments become artifacts in one’s personal story, but the public wearing of some ornaments—for example, an engagement ring or mourning jewelry—is also an indicator of status. Jewelry plays an important role in our identities, conveying how we see ourselves and how we want to be seen by others. Considering both jewelry and portraiture, this lavishly illustrated lecture will offer personal stories of jewelry and its former owners. 

Dr. Emily Stoehrer is the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and a visiting lecturer in the History of Art Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. At the MFA Stoehrer oversees a collection that spans nine curatorial departments and six thousand years of history. She has curated exhibitions and written on various aspects of adornment—most recently she cocurated Boston Made: Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork and contributed to Winged Beauty: The Butterflies of Wallace Chan (2021) and the Journal of Dress History. As an educator, Stoehrer has lectured and taught on a diverse range of jewelry, fashion, and design-related topics. She holds a PhD in humanities from Salve Regina University and a master of arts in fashion and textile studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology.


Beth Carver Wees“The Devotion and Affection of a Grateful People”: American Presentation Silver
Since time immemorial objects made of silver have commemorated triumphant occasions and important life passages. As one of the Earth’s most precious elements, this intrinsically valuable metal has long been associated with financial security, elevated social status, and both personal and professional accomplishments. Southerners took great pride in documenting those special moments in time with personalized gifts of silver. In this talk, Wees will examine how presentation silver has touched the lives of individuals, both private and public, honoring their achievements with awards at once timely and enduring.

Beth Carver Wees is curator emerita of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where for twenty years she oversaw the collections of American silver, jewelry, and other metalwork. Prior to joining the Met’s staff in 2000, she was curator of decorative arts at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She lectures internationally and is the author of numerous articles and books, including English, Irish & Scottish Silver at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (1997) and Early American Silver in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2013). She was one of the six organizing curators for the Met’s exhibition Jewelry: The Body Transformed, as well as a contributor to its catalogue. Her special exhibition, Jewelry for America, was on view at the Met from June 2019 to May 2021.

Wees holds degrees in art history from Smith College and the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art. An alumna of the Attingham Summer School and the Royal Collection Studies, she currently serves as president of the board of the American Friends of Attingham. She also sits on the advisory board of the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts.


Advisory Committee: The quality of the New Orleans Antiques Forum depends in part on the gracious assistance of a network of experts.

Previous Forums: Programs from past Antiques Forums provide examples of the topics presented at each event.