When you tour the 1865 Morris-Butler House museum in downtown Indianapolis, you step back in time to the Victorian era and become immersed in the lifestyle of an upper-middle-class family during the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Through May 23, 2009, the museum’s tours are additionally focused on a unique theme: “Dearly Departed: The Art of Victorian Mourning.”
The tour includes the usual fare: viewing of the home’s many rooms – from the elegant formal parlor to the functional kitchen to the private living and sleeping quarters (note: Mr. and Mrs. slept in separate bedrooms) – with a detailed explanation of the rooms’ uses and the roles they played in the family members’ lives. During the mourning exhibit, however, the house takes on a distinctly sober aura, as the propriety prescribed for such an occasion takes an even firmer-than-usual hold on the lives of the home’s occupants.
From the touching to the somewhat macabre, the home displays mourning customs that are foreign to today’s citizens of the 21st century. Would you have made a good Victorian mourner? Take this quiz to find out, and then take a trip to the museum to learn more about this fascinating era.
The Morris-Butler House is filled with antique furniture, kitchen appliances, clothing, toys, décor and accessories typical of the era and features stenciled ceilings and elaborate wallpaper and plasterwork.
The mansion is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is accredited by the American Association of Museums. Public tours are hosted on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $3 for children and full-time students. The home is located at 1204 N. Park Ave., Indianapolis 46202, phone (317) 636-5409.