Cliveden of the National Trust
Cliveden of the National Trust, an 18th-century historic house in Germantown, will transform its public programming with Emancipating Cliveden, a radical reinterpretation of the site based on evidence of the Chew family’s slaveholding. This project is informed by a year-long planning process that involved extensive community engagement and outreach, including Cliveden Conversations—dialogue-based public programs in which members of the Germantown community were invited to share their thoughts on difficult subject matter such as slavery, race, and privilege. Through these conversations, Cliveden began a fundamental shift away from nostalgia for the past and toward a new narrative of “hope and progress, with potential to inform people’s lives in the present.” New exhibitions and programs will explore the relationship between wealth, privilege, and slavery in early American culture. They will include a new visitor orientation area that will house an immersive, multimedia installation made up of ambient, layered sounds and projected looping images intended to evoke feelings and promote dialogue about Cliveden’s history. Continued public programs will accompany the exhibition, as well as a redesigned Web site, which will feature archival information as well as user-generated content. The end result will be a historic site that is far more than a house museum.