Monmouth County Historical Association debuts exhibits

In celebration of the holiday season, the Monmouth County Historical Association has debuted Let Us Play, the newest exhibition at the association’s headquarters at 70 Court St., Freehold Borough.

Drawing on the association’s extensive collection, Let Us Play will trace several centuries of children’s joyful pastimes and their evolving playthings, according to a press release.

Let Us Play will feature every child-related article in the association’s collection, many on
display for the first time.

From the colonial era through the 20th century, the exhibit will trace the evolution of play and the effect the industrial revolution, consumerism and the burgeoning influence advertising had on children’s ideas of fun and their beloved toys, according to the press release.

Childhood treasures displayed will range from dolls and dollhouses, to games and cast iron banks, to books, carriages and historic photos.

“We are so happy to present this joyful exhibit for the holidays, especially during this challenging era in our contemporary history,” MCHA Director of Collections Bernadette Rogoff said.

“I have always been enchanted by the extensive trove of childhood treasures in the MCHA collection and I am thrilled to finally be able to bring them to the museum to share with everyone,” Rogoff said.

“The association is thrilled to welcome the community back to the museum this holiday season,” MCHA Board of Trustees President Linda Bricker said. “It is heartwarming to see
through this exhibit that throughout our nation’s history, both dark and triumphant, the
exuberance and optimism of children endures and adapts.”

Check the website at www.monmouthhistory.org for exhibit days and hours.

In other news, the association has announced a new exhibit, Beneath the Floorboards: Whispers of the Enslaved at Marlpit Hall, 137 Kings Highway, Middletown.

This reinterpretation of the association’s c.1756 historic house museum pays tribute to the men, women and children who were enslaved there centuries ago, according to a press release.

Recently discovered artifacts concealed beneath the floorboards reveal cultural beliefs, protective rituals and representations of clandestine defiance, making this one of the county’s more important archeological sites, according to Richard Veit, professor of anthropology and specialist in historical archeology at Monmouth University, West Long Branch.

The exhibit holds a cache of personal objects and primary source information about the residents of these quarters, according to the press release.

“The telling of New Jersey’s history is often fragmented, with little remembrance of the thousands who lived under forced servitude for more than two centuries. This exhibit is framed upon seven of these individuals: Ephraim, William, Elizabeth, Clarisse, Hannah, Tom and York, all of whom once lived at Marlpit Hall,” Rogoff said.

Extensive archival documentation, archaeological evidence and objects from the association’s museum collection – some on view to the public for the first time – help tell the larger story of slavery in Monmouth County and in New Jersey, according to the press release.

Rogoff and MCHA Associate Curator Joe Zemla co-curated and designed the exhibition, the first major development stemming from the Living and Breathing initiative started in late 2019 as a means of reinterpreting MCHA’s four colonial era historic houses to include the stories of the enslaved African Americans who once resided within them, according to the press release.

“The exhibit offers a better understanding of how slavery took root in early Monmouth County, as well as the complex dynamics of daily life and relationships among the enslaved,” Zemla said.

Hours of operation will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Check the
website at www.monmouthhistory.org before visiting.

For group visits and inquiries, email info@monmouthhistory.org

For information about special programming and other information about the MCHA, visit monmouthhistory.org