53 Cambridge Turnpike
Concord, MA 01742
Few communities in New England are older than Concord, Massachusetts. Fewer still can boast a more distinguished history, and there may be no other community whose history—the everyday and the nationally important—is better represented by a collection of artifacts. The Concord Museum collection, formed in part in the 1850s, is one of the oldest and best documented collections in the country and now numbers more than 35,000 objects.
Long-renowned for its iconic treasures like the lantern hung in the North Church by orders of Paul Revere on April 18, 1775 and the world’s largest collection of objects related to Henry D. Thoreau, Concord’s influential writer and naturalist, the Concord Museum also is home to a nationally significant collection of American decorative arts, including clocks, furniture, needlework, and silver.
From the shot heard ‘round the world to the literary revolution of Emerson and Thoreau, the Concord Museum brings Concord’s remarkable story to life through object-based exhibitions that present ideas relevant to today – liberty, self-reliance, independent thinking, and environmental preservation. The Concord Museum is a gateway to historic Concord for visitors from around the world and a vital educational and cultural resource for the town and the region.
As part of Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture, the Concord Museum presented a special exhibition, The Best Workman in the Shop: Cabinetmaker William Munroe of Concord, from October 11, 2013 through Sunday, March 23, 2014. Twenty-one-year-old cabinetmaker William Munroe (1778-1861), the grandson of two Patriot activists, arrived in Concord in June 1800, with a set of tools and patterns for making clock cases and $3.40 in cash. Having been trained as a cabinetmaker in three different shops between 1793 and 1799, Munroe had become, in his words, “the best workman in the shop.” Forty years later he proudly recorded having more than $20,000 in assets, a remarkable achievement for a craftsman. Using Munroe’s own account books and examples of his work, the exhibition illustrated aspects of this skilled cabinetmaker’s interesting and somewhat unexpected career. Influenced by fashion and international politics, William Munroe steered a path through the treacherous economic landscape of Federal New England and along the way helped make some of the most beautiful clocks the new nation ever produced.