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Moses Myers House

323 E. Freemason St.
Open Saturday and Sunday

Noon–5 p.m.

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Reading Room
Currently closed

About the Myers House

The oldest Jewish home in America open to the public as a museum offers a glimpse of the life of an early 19th century merchant family.
More about the house

About the Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Art Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

Located in Norfolk

One Memorial Place,
Norfolk, VA
Get Directions

While You're Here

Visit our Museum Shop
and the Wisteria Cafe.

Perry Glass Studio

A state-of-art facility on the Museum’s campus. See a free glassmaking demo Tuesdays–Sunday at noon. Like what you see? Take a class with us! More about the Studio

Moses Myers House

The home of the first permanent Jewish residents of Norfolk, this historic house offers a glimpse of the life of a wealthy early 19th-century merchant family.
More about the house

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the Library

Wedding & Event Rentals

The perfect place for your big day or special event. Get the details

In-person Tours

Group tours are available for groups of 20 or fewer. More about tours

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Visit one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

About the Chrysler

Our story spans well over 100 years. See where we began, how we grew, and where we're going. Explore our history

News and Announcements

See what's happening at the Museum, read Chrysler Magazine, and find our Media Center. Read now

Location

745 Duke Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-333-6299

Always Free Parking

Get Directions

Third Thursdays

Live art performances monthly.
See the archive

Studio Team

Meet the brilliant minds behind the Studio.
See the team

Visiting Artist Series

Bringing the world’s top glass art talent to Hampton Roads
Find out more

Give the Chrysler Experience

Share everything you love about the Chrysler Museum with a gift membership. Perfect for everyone on your list.

The Masterpiece Society

Learn about this innovative group of museum supporters.
Meet the Masterpiece Society

Planned Giving

Help ensure the long-term success of the Museum.
Learn about planned giving

Moses Myers House

323 E. Freemason St.
Open Saturday and Sunday

Noon–5 p.m.

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Reading Room
Currently closed

About the Myers House

The oldest Jewish home in America open to the public as a museum offers a glimpse of the life of an early 19th century merchant family.
More about the house

About the Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Art Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

Located in Norfolk

One Memorial Place,
Norfolk, VA
Get Directions

While You're Here

Visit our Museum Shop
and the Wisteria Cafe.

Perry Glass Studio

A state-of-art facility on the Museum’s campus. See a free glassmaking demo Tuesdays–Sunday at noon. Like what you see? Take a class with us! More about the Studio

Moses Myers House

The home of the first permanent Jewish residents of Norfolk, this historic house offers a glimpse of the life of a wealthy early 19th-century merchant family.
More about the house

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the Library

Wedding & Event Rentals

The perfect place for your big day or special event. Get the details

In-person Tours

Group tours are available for groups of 20 or fewer. More about tours

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Visit one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

About the Chrysler

Our story spans well over 100 years. See where we began, how we grew, and where we're going. Explore our history

News and Announcements

See what's happening at the Museum, read Chrysler Magazine, and find our Media Center. Read now

Location

745 Duke Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-333-6299

Always Free Parking

Get Directions

Third Thursdays

Live art performances monthly.
See the archive

Studio Team

Meet the brilliant minds behind the Studio.
See the team

Visiting Artist Series

Bringing the world’s top glass art talent to Hampton Roads
Find out more

Give the Chrysler Experience

Share everything you love about the Chrysler Museum with a gift membership. Perfect for everyone on your list.

The Masterpiece Society

Learn about this innovative group of museum supporters.
Meet the Masterpiece Society

Planned Giving

Help ensure the long-term success of the Museum.
Learn about planned giving

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March 11, 2021

A Trip Around the World with Irene Leache and Annie Wood

–Mark Lewis, Museum Conservator

Irene Leache and Anna “Annie” Cogswell Wood were trailblazers of the nineteenth century. The friends came to Norfolk at a Presbyterian minister’s request and aimed to fill a cultural vacuum left by the Civil War. Together, they established Leache-Wood Seminary, an all-girls school for the most prominent families in Norfolk. They also hosted The Fireside Club where men and women discussed literature, philosophy, religion, and art. Leache’s passion for the arts and Wood’s drive to turn Norfolk into a cultural arts center eventually led to the creation of the city’s first museum, the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences. Later, the institution was renamed the Chrysler Museum of Art to recognize Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.’s transformative gift of art to the city.

The Leache-Wood Seminary, Freemason Street, Norfolk, ca. 1904, Possibly published by Harry Cowles Mann, ca. 1909–24, Gelatin silver print, Museum collection, 0.892

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Chrysler’s gift this year, we also have the privilege of looking back on the lives of Leache and Wood. With the help of the Irene Leache Memorial Foundation, we have restored a nineteenth-century photo album that holds more than 100 professionally produced albumen prints collected and assembled by Leache and Wood during their travels in the late 1890s. The rare artifact contains remarkable images of people from around the globe and a wide variety of cultures. These women were intrepid travelers seeking far-flung and remote places throughout Europe, Russia, and the Middle East—from Lapland to Cairo. Remarkably, they ventured unescorted throughout their travels and collected images of Whirling Dervishes in Turkey, camel riders in front of the pyramids, and worshipers in Jerusalem.

Irene Leache Photo Album, photos by Ed Pollard, Chrysler Museum of Art

Assembled with personally annotated descriptions on each page, this souvenir album documents their adventurous travels over a decade. Although the images are in fairly good condition for their age, they were mounted into a photo album whose pages were made of acidic wood pulp paper. The degradation of these pages made it impossible to save the album in its current format. Acids in the paper were also attacking the photographic images themselves. The adhesive, which was used to mount the images onto each page, became brittle with age and caused damage to the photographs.

Irene Leache Photo Album, photo by Ed Pollard, Chrysler Museum of Art

Irene Leache Photo Album, photo by Ed Pollard, Chrysler Museum of Art

We entrusted the highly skilled photograph conservators, Nancy Heugh and Tom Edmondson, to help us preserve these valuable images that depict a world that no longer exists. Between them, they have over sixty years of experience treating all manner of photographs. They carefully detached each photographic image from the acidic paper and then washed the fragile albumen prints to remove the adhesive, stains, and acid residues. We retained the original photo album pages complete with their handwritten captions, which were previously captured in high resolution by Ed Pollard, the Chrysler Museum’s photographer (shown above).

Image from Irene Leache Photo Album post-treatment

After washing them, these thin, delicate, albumen prints were then reinforced with Japanese tissue paper. After they were conserved, they were mounted onto archival paper. We have collected these new pages together to maintain the integrity of this album in a way that will allow us to preserve this valuable collection of photographs and introduce our visitors to a world and people long ago vanished but saved for posterity by the efforts of two remarkable women.

18th Irene Leache Memorial Exhibition, February 6 to March 2, 1966, Chrysler Museum of Art Archive

Wood and Leache’s friendship spanned more than three decades. Following Leache’s death, Wood honored her friend’s memory and lifelong devotion to the arts with the Irene Leache Library. Established in 1901, the group presented lectures and concerts; offered musical instruction; and emphasized fine arts, literature, and the study of mystic science. They also nurtured a growing art collection for a future museum in Norfolk. When Wood left Norfolk and returned to Florence, she sent artworks back to Norfolk and called upon seminary alumnae to work toward creating a museum. Their efforts inspired generations of women in the region. In addition, the group conducted the annual Irene Leache Memorial Literary Contest for eighty years, the biennial Irene Leache Memorial Art Exhibit for thirty-four years, and the Irene Leache Memorial Lecture Series for sixty-two years.

Irene Leache Memorial Foundation, group tour in the galleries with Jeff Harrison, then Chief Curator and Irene Leache Curator of European Art,  March 11, 2014

Today, Leache and Wood’s influence continues to impact the community. Since 2001, the Irene Leache Memorial has awarded grants totaling more than $130,000 to thirty-eight visual, performing, and literary arts organizations across Southeastern Virginia. In 2014, the Irene Leache Memorial Foundation donated its entire collection of European Old Master paintings, sculpture, tapestries, and decorative arts to the Chrysler Museum of Art. Another substantial bequest accompanied the gift—an endowed curatorship. The Foundation created the Irene Leache Curator of European Art. The named curatorship memorializes and perpetuates the symbiotic 80-year history between the Irene Leache Memorial and the Museum, giving both a more active and ongoing influence in the future of the arts in Hampton Roads.

Read more about the Irene Leache Memorial Foundation’s 2014 gift to the Museum here.

 

 

From the Collection