MATTHEWS – As Valentine’s Day approaches, the Matthews Heritage Museum is encouraging visitors to fall in love with history through its upcoming seasonal exhibit.
“From the Heart” will debut Thursday, Jan. 16, at the museum and will feature an array of unique valentines, mostly dating back to the 1920s. The exhibit will remain on display through mid-March, and people can view the collection of items during normal museum
Museum director Barbara Taylor said the “From the Heart” exhibit was chosen because it was an appropriate theme for this time of year. The exhibit features between 30 and 40 valentines – all from the late 1910s and 1920s.
“We have quite a variety,” Taylor said. “There are a couple of mechanical ones with moving parts. There are a fair amount with honeycombed paper, many foldouts that are 3-D … They have very interesting ways in which they open and
In addition to the “honeycombed” valentines, which are 3-D foldouts with paper resembling the shape of a honeycomb, the exhibit also features postcards and other 2-D items. All of the items featured in the exhibit were obtained through a private source, whose grandmother preserved her collection of early 20th-century
The most unique items in the exhibit, Taylor said, are called “vinegar valentines” – valentines designed to insult. Vinegar valentines were typically sent anonymously and ridiculed the recipient by highlighting a specific quality, such as a big nose, a teacher’s pet personality or a spinster, she
“When I found out about them, I had never heard of them,” Taylor said, adding she discovered vinegar valentines were popular during the Civil War era as a way for one side of the conflict to admonish the other. “It’s very much a form of bullying. It’s not pleasant to think we were doing that way back then, but I guess human nature doesn’t change that much.”
The exhibit will feature two examples of vinegar valentines.
Other highlights, Taylor said, are a couple of “daring” valentines that are somewhat suggestive, particularly for the time period in which they were created – such as a girl sitting in a bathtub along with the phrase “to be or not to be,” and another of a girl sitting in a nutshell.
“They’re tame, but still suggestive,” she said.
“From the Heart” follows on the heels of the Matthews Heritage Museum’s highly successful holiday exhibit, “Toyland,” which featured a plethora of antique toys. The exhibit drew a steady stream of visitors during the weeks leading up to Christmas – including people who traveled from Raleigh to Matthews to see the toys.
“We’re delighted to bring people across the state to view our exhibit,” Taylor said. “We’re glad we’re appealing topically to
The museum opened to the public in June 2013 and offers three permanent exhibits specifically focusing on the history of Matthews – from early commerce to life before electricity and more. Limited-time, seasonal exhibits also are featured, which Taylor said helps attract repeat visitors. An antique kite exhibit will take place in the spring.
People can visit the museum, at 232 N. Trade St., Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Regular admission is $4 for adults, $2 for visitors ages 11 to 17 and free for children 10 and younger. The museum hosts free admission days on the first Saturday of each month.
Find more information at www.matthewsheritagemuseum.org, or call 704-708-4996.