Currently on view in the Slave Quarters are two exhibits on the history of the Royall estate and the people who lived there. One uses objects unearthed by archaeologists to explore the parallel lives of the wealthy Royall family and the enslaved Africans whose labor supported their lavish lifestyle. The other examines the eighteenth-century landscape.
“Digging for History”
This exhibit features a selection of the more than 65,000 objects and fragments that were recovered from the Royall House grounds, some 5,000 of them from the pre-Revolutionary era. The objects on display range from porcelain chocolate cups to milkpans and gaming pieces made from broken shards of tile. They shed light on the vastly different experiences of the two groups who lives on the estate.
“Learning from the Landscape”
This exhibit investigates the different functions the property fulfilled during the period of the Royalls’ ownership. The objects on display include one of the museum’s great treasures, a carved statue of Mercury, the Roman god of commerce, which once topped the bell-shaped cupola of the estate’s summer house. The rare eighteenth-century lawn roller on view evokes the labor required to maintain the elegant gardens.