In 2017, The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum won the most prestigious national award given by the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH), for the exhibit, The Stairs Below: The Mansion’s Domestic Servants, 1868-1938. The project was aimed at launching a cultural dialogue on class, race, ethnicity, politics, labor relations, and social history during a half-century of ascendancy and through the lens of two households.
“The AASLH bestows Leadership in History Awards to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all Americans.”
The exhibition, The Stairs Below: The Mansion’s Domestic Servants 1868-1938, was a museum-wide exhibition and guided tour, with focus on documents, artifacts, images, costumes and uniforms— and the Mansion plan itself—displayed throughout the period rooms of the Museum.
Concurrently, the newly restored Servants’ Quarters opened to the public for the first time in the Museum’s history on October 10, 2015. While the museum-wide exhibition officially closed on October 30th, 2016, the Servants’ Quarters and exhibit installation remain permanently open and are part of the visitors’ experience.
The exhibition was made possible with support from the LMMM Chairman of the Board Patsy Brescia and the Board of Trustees, the City of Norwalk, the State of Connecticut and with major funding from the CT Humanities as well as sponsorships and grants from The Maurice Goodman Foundation, Klaffs, The Xerox Foundation and CTC&G. The exhibition, The Stairs Below was conceptualized by executive director Susan Gilgore, curated by Raechel Guest with the assistance of expert advisor Jennifer Pustz during its planning phase, and by Kathleen Motes Bennewitz during its implementation.
In 2017, AASLH was proud to confer forty-eight national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represented the best in the field and provided leadership for the future of state and local history. Presentation of the awards were made at a special banquet during the 2017 AASLH Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, on Friday, September 8. The banquet was supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel.
“I am truly honored that the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum, for the first time in its history, has won such a coveted national award from our nation’s foremost proponent of American State and Local History,” said Executive Director Susan Gilgore. “This highly competitive Award of Merit serves as the ultimate recognition and validation of the tireless efforts of our Community, Supporters, Officers, Volunteers and Staff and once again proves the vitality and relevance of our cherished institution.” In citing the sponsors of the winning exhibit Gilgore said that “without the CT Humanities Council this exhibit and national acclaim would simply not exist.”