Highland’s re-interpreted exhibit spaces are now open to the public. The interior spaces will be open to general ticket holders for the first time since March 2020. The exhibits are self-guided, with visitors moving at their own pace through the newly curated rooms.
The newly interpreted spaces are in Highland’s standing house, which was correctly identified by research announced in 2016. Prior to that, for more than a century, the house had been misunderstood as a remnant wing of the Monroes’ 1799 main house. Highland’s recent research in architectural history, archaeology, and dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) discovered the archaeological remains of the main house, which had been entirely destroyed by fire around 1830, and correctly identified the standing house as the guesthouse two enslaved men, Peter Malorry and George Williams, constructed in 1818 for Monroe’s visitors. The new exhibits are the first major re-curation of the site interiors since the research announcement.
Exhibit content includes the people and events at Highland in ways that reflect individual stories and larger threads of U.S. history. Monroe and his political career are presented in this interpretation, and dozens of enslaved women, men, and children, the Monroe family, and additional historical figures, are presented as important parts of the site’s history. The curated spaces, texts, and images create an inclusive story that encompasses President James Monroe’s career, and discusses slavery as a foundational element of American economic and social history. Exhibit panel texts are in English and Spanish. We hope that anyone interested in history will feel welcomed and encouraged to dive deeper into Highland’s stories, which are place-based examples of the roots of today’s United States.
The language and themes of the exhibits were developed with input from Highland’s Council of Descendant Advisors, whose ancestors labored at Highland during slavery and after the Civil War. Funding for content development included support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sharing Authority to Remember and Re-Interpret the Past, a grant to William & Mary. Translation and design services were provided through a grant from the Charlottesville Albemarle Community Foundation.
Highland is open seven days a week, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with tickets available for purchase at https://highland.org/plan-your-visit/tours-and-tickets/. General admission includes access to new indoor exhibits and the historic property. Private guided tours are available on select days prior to public operating hours. Physical distance and face masks are required in indoor spaces.