Reynolda House Tour Tips from Art the Elf

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Reynolda House Tour Tips from Art the Elf

Hello, I’m Art the Elf. My job is to lurk around the Museum and report who is being naughty or nice.

I must admit, over the time that I have been on watch for “the naughty” and “the nice,” I’ve witnessed some VIP tours. An elf has access to certain observations that most don’t--observations that I believe visitors, like you, will want to share with your friends when you come to the Museum this holiday season. Tidbits of Reynolda trivia - stories and little-known facts that will have your guests exclaiming,“That’s’re brilliant!” This December, follow #ArttheElf on Twitter and Facebook for “Tour Tips of the Day” from yours truly.

You can tweet me your personal tour tips for Reynolda at #ArttheElf. 

Happy Holidays!

Collection of #ArttheElf Tour Tips 

"Don’t act like you’re not impressed." I like to practice my witty banter in the mirrors of Reynolda’s Art Deco bar. They were designed to amuse: by moving from a convex to a concave mirror, one’s reflection goes from slender to wide. Take a date to the Museum this weekend and use my Tour Tip to break the ice!

This season, purchase an original art piece for your out-of-town guests from the Museum’s Art-o-mat machine! The brainchild of artist Clark Whittington, Art-o-mats are retired cigarette vending machines converted to dispense art. Share with your guests that the design of Reynolda’s Art-o-mat references the “Operation” board game, because it was originally intended for Brenner Children’s Hospital.


Meeting your friends at Reynolda House? Have everyone convene at the gazebo on the front lawn. While waiting, casually drop into conversation that in 1925 American Landscape Architect Thomas W. Sears designed the wooden structure. Historically, many gazebos were placed throughout Reynolda’s landscape.


Take your guests up to the attic at Reynolda House Museum of American Art to show them Mr. Reynolds’s fur-lined coat that was a Christmas present from his wife. Share that the coat was custom-made to fit R.J. Reynolds, who was 6’2” and 215 lbs, details penned in a letter by his wife to J. Jaekel & Sons of Baltimore on December 10, 1912.


One of Reynolda House’s most prized works of art, Fredric Church’s “The Andes of Ecuador,” depicts the harmony of Christianity and scientific advancement, a sentiment popular with the artists of the early 19th century. Use the viewing tubes to see the details of the vegetation up close like opera glasses. See how many crosses you can find. Remember: the radiant light that stretches horizontally and vertically counts as a cross!


In 1935-36, the Babcock family added the recreational facilities on the basement level of Reynolda House, which included an indoor swimming pool, skating rink, and bowling alley - amenities that enlivened many a holiday party.  The family divided their time between Philadelphia, Greenwich, and Reynolda until 1941, when they moved into Reynolda full-time just in time for Christmas. The family would have macaws in the cages on the far side of the pool house. Thank Santa they're not there today. Birds love little elves! 


On the Candlelight Tour at the Museum, steal a kiss under the mistletoe in the Reception Hall. Whisper to your sweetheart that because this seasonal shrub only grows high in the trees, Katharine Reynolds had it shot down from the oaks to decorate her bungalow.


Music was an important part of the Reynolds family holiday. In the era before radios, wealthy Americans enjoyed music in their homes through installations of mammoth organs. Reynolda’s Aeolian organ - the original surround-sound - is located in the reception hall where rugs were rolled up for dancing during parties. When you visit, you can see many of the organ’s 2,566 pipes in the organ chamber on the second floor. Extra tip for you lovers of the classics: Aeolus was the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology!




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