The Newport Historical Society has launched a new exhibit during this snowy northeast winter that reminds visitors that earlier residents used a variety of different tools to keep themselves comfy and cozy during long and cold days and nights.
Hearth in Home: Keeping Warm in Early Newport can be seen at the Brick Market: Museum & Shop, the home to the Museum of Newport History. The exhibit explores the hearth along with the fuels and the tools used to start and maintain the fires that kept this area of Rhode Island warm before the modern thermostat.
“The hearth was literally a central part of home life in early Newport,” explained Newport Historical Society’s Adjunct Curator Matt Keagle. “Fireplaces may seem quaint and old fashioned but they actually changed a great deal as people attempted to find the best ways to heat their homes and conserve fuel, issues we still struggle with today.”
Hearth in Home is the first exhibit at the Museum of Newport History to use smart phone technology. A QR code, which is unique to each exhibit label, allows museum visitors to scan the code and link to a page in the Newport Historical Society’s mobile app Explore Historic Newport. Each page offers additional information and photos. For example, by scanning the QR code on the label for the Society’s newly acquired andiron (see photo), a visitor can read more about its history, construction and function.
“This technology allows the museum to interact with a younger audience while enhancing the experience for tech savvy visitors,” said Ruth Taylor, executive director of the Newport Historical Society. “By including information from Hearth in Home in Explore Historic Newport, we have created a virtual exhibit that anyone can visit at any time. This expansion in content broadens our audience and helps us further our mission.”
Hearth in Home: Keeping Warm in Early Newport runs through May at the Brick Market: Museum & Shop, 127 Thames Street in the center of Newport. The museum opens daily at 10 a.m. For more information, call 401-841-8770. Web visitors can experience the virtual exhibit through the Explore Historic Newport app.