Date of Visit: October 9, 2013
After leaving Memphis much later than I expected I wasn’t sure that I would make it to The Hermitage today. I did! I’m pretty sure that if I wasn’t the last tour of the mansion, then I was the next to last tour.
I don’t know why I was surprised by the size of the property, but I was. There was gorgeous weather in Nashville today, so I had no problem walking around the property for an hour and a half. Confession time: I didn’t visit the museum. I just visited the mansion and the grounds. I’m a terrible museum visitor. I also don’t feel too bad about this fact.
What to say? Umm. The grounds were great? Okay. Let me just say this: I’ve never been a fan of historic house museums that have a plexiglass barrier in the doorways that stop you from stepping in to the room. That make you just stand in the hallway. (Huh. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t get that job I interviewed for last year. Sorry. Tangent.) That being said, I understand from a tour guide and curator’s POV how the barrier is beneficial. If you can’t tell, The Hermitage has barriers in the doorway.
All of that said, the rooms are set up extremely well. As one of our tour guides told us, the first two rooms on the tour are all original pieces of furniture and not reproduction. I didn’t think to ask if the textiles were original or reproduction. Dang. If they were original they were in amazing condition. I want to know how they store them and if they rotate them. (It’s awkward asking those kinds of questions on a tour with other people though.)
There is an interesting tour guide system in place at The Hermitage. During my tour, I had three tour guides. One for the public areas (downstairs only – guests would never go upstairs) which were the front hallway, sitting room, and another room, a parlor, maybe? The second tour guide was for the private spaces on the first floor, which included the bedroom of Andrew Jackson. Our third, and final, tour guide was for the bedrooms upstairs.
One thing that I really like was that the audio tour (included with price of admission) told the story of Rachel, Andrew Jackson’s wife. Rachel died before the interpretative period of the mansion, so they don’t talk about her on the tour. This can be a problem for historic houses, having a person the visitors want to know more about, but that person is outside of the period of interpretation so they aren’t mentioned. So, I liked their solution with the audio tour.
My opinion? The grounds are great. I learned things I didn’t know before. All in all, things a museum is supposed to do for you.
Visit their website here: President Andrew Jackson’s Home