July 23, 2003 – The Estate Whim Museum will open a temporary exhibition this fall of 18th and 19th century Danish-West Indian furniture pieces collected by St. Croix's Wayne James on his travels.
The exhibit is titled "Press to Des', Pillar to Post: The Art and Antiques of a World Bachelor." It will open on Nov. 9 and remain in place for six months while the museum's permanent exhibition pieces undergo conservation and restoration work.
In a release, Martin Public Relations, the government's mainland publicity agency, notes that the expression "press to des', pillar to post" is one used in the islands that "draws upon furniture imagery" and means "to flit around from place to place."
And, it notes, "Such has been the experience of Wayne James, a local historian and a renowned international designer, who recovered the unique pieces of this exhibit on his travels around the world."
The release states that the exhibit will provide "a unique window into the U.S. Virgin Islands' rich historic and cultural heritage" of joiners producing fine woodwork made from local mahogany trees. The Web site of the St. Croix Landmarks Society, which operates the Whim Museum, states that the exhibition will show off "local furniture production as well the use of native woods to produce furniture abroad." The pieces to be displayed were made on St. Croix and in Denmark.
James is a member of the Landmarks Society board of trustees. He has traveled to Denmark several times in recent years to research — and in some cases return to the territory — historical records relating to St. Croix, and he has devoted much of his leisure time to collecting furniture originating in the islands.
The release quoted James as saying that "the tangible culture of Virgin Islanders is most prominently embodied in the islands' historical architecture, its jewelry tradition and its highly coveted mahogany furniture."
The pieces to be displayed include four-poster beds, game tables, rocking chairs, planter's chairs and a clothes press. They will be shown in settings also incorporating other objects from James's personal collection — antique Persian rugs, 19th century paintings, chandeliers, crystal and rare books. And placed within these "vignettes" will be mannequins dressed in some of the designer's haute couture gowns.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Landmarks Society is planning furniture-making demonstrations, workshops, lectures, tours and other special presentations. During a part of the exhibit period, Jesper Larsen, a Danish furniture restorer, will be in residence at Whim Museum and visitors will be able to observe him at work.
For more information, visit the St. Croix Landmarks Society Web site or call the museum at 772-0598.
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