In 1885, Dr. Arthur Nichols and his wife Elizabeth purchased an 1804 townhouse attributed to architect Charles Bulfinch. The house was where their three daughters matured into designers, writers, and social activists. In 1930, Rose Standish Nichols (1872-1960) inherited the property and began laying the plans for its establishment as a museum. Soon after her death in 1960, the Nichols House Museum opened to the public. Today, the Museum engages with the social concerns of those who lived and worked in the house.
The Nichols House Museum maintains and preserves an original collection which reflects the Nichols family's cultural values and changing tastes across two generations. Highlights include sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Flemish tapestries, Japanese woodblock prints, and Boston furniture. Visitors also encounter day-to-day objects including an 1897 dumbwaiter and a 1936 radio.
The Nichols House Museum welcomes visitors year-round. It provides an active schedule of lectures, programs, and special events for its members and the surrounding Boston community. The Nichols House Museum offers engaging tours and public programming for all ages. Groups that visit include students from nearby colleges and universities, adult learners, and youth.
Visit and join the conversation.
The story of Daphne turning into a tree is perfect for this month's ! It is depicted in the dining room's Flemish tapestry.
In one rendition the story goes as follows: Apollo, the god of archery, the sun, beauty, and other things, made the mistake of belittling Cupid, seeing himself as the superior archer. Cupid retaliated by shooting Apollo with a golden love arrow and causing him to fall head over heels with the next person he saw- the beautiful nymph, Daphne. Cupid also shot Daphne with an arrow, but one that caused her to be impervious to love.
Apollo would not take no for an answer and chased Daphne through the woods until they came upon her river god father, Peneus. Hearing her cries for help, Peneus transformed Daphne into a laurel tree. Apollo was distraught. He made and wore a crown of laurel leaves from her tree and deemed the laurel sacred. The laurel crown is still used to honor athletic victors and has became all but ubiquitous with ancient Greece.
Apollo’s twin sister Artemis, also an archer, can be found just around the corner in Augustus Saint-Gaudens' sculpture Diana sculpture.
Apollo and Daphne Tapestry, Flemish, late 16th-early 17th or early 18th century, Silk, wool, and linen, 1961.208.
Our mini-exhibition in the lobby is up! Catch "Out of the Cabinet: Examining Objects of Use" through spring! View today's story for more.
Put together by our spring intern, Kate, it highlights belongings that can often be overlooked as visitors walk through the house and allows us to appreciate them in a new way.
Happy to gardeners of plots large or small! "Small gardens succeed where large ones fail, in being livable and lovable." Landscape architect Rose Nichols praised small gardens in a 1909 article for The House Beautiful.
She used this plan by her brother-in-law, Arthur A. Shurcliff to demonstrate how one can feel secluded and remote even in a suburban house lot- note the 6' ledge!
Image description: Drawn garden plan with the title, "Sketch of a small garden near Boston, Massachusetts".
Image and quote source: "A Plea for Small Gardens", Rose Standish Nichols, The House Beautiful, March 1909.
We're developing a new experience for families and we need your help!
Friday, April 22 at 10:30am (Free): Tour the house and spend time interacting with a few different types of artworks and each other. Then, share your thoughts on how the experience went with staff to help us make important improvements.
Take home this vintage photo in notebook and notecard form! It features Nichols siblings -Rose and Margaret- enjoying the garden of their summer home in Cornish, NH, with a few friends. Or catch the real thing on Rose's bedroom mantel. Happy !
: Hand holding a small notebook in front of a mantle which holds the same photograph pictured on the notebook, white square outlining the notebook.
A big welcome to Annaliese Arnsten, our new Visitor Services Representative. You can catch Annaliese welcoming visitors and giving tours in a few weeks!
"Hello, I am so excited to be joining the team at the Nichols House Museum! I am an honors Public History student at Suffolk University, and am looking forward to hands-on experience preserving and educating the public about the home, its beautiful collections, and the fascinating individuals that inhabited it.
There are many small and obscure objects in the collection that I find fascinating, but two of my favorite pieces are the Colonial Revival chairs that were intricately hand-carved by Rose Nichols herself. I love how they represent Rose’s commitment to detail and artistry in her home, as well as the bed hanging she personally embroidered for her bedroom. These everyday objects are so rich in both the style of the time as well as Rose’s personal tastes, and they bring her vision of the museum to life." -Annaliese
Image description: A photo of Annaliese with Rose's bed hangings in the background.
Bed hangings made by Rose Standish Nichols (American, 1872-1960), ca. 1890. Linen and silk. 1961.505.
Did you know Rose Nichols founded a Beacon Hill Reading Club in the 1890s? We continue that tradition with the Gibson House Museum. Join us next week for our Poetry Month edition! (Don't' worry, the "required" reading is provided and much shorter for this one!)
Wednesday, April 6th at 6:00pm. Virtual via Zoom.
Image description: Third floor reading nook complete with window, pillows, and a full book shelf.
Time is hard on textiles. They are one of the most sensitive materials in a museum's collection. Last week, textile conservator Kathleen MacKay began work on the dining room tapestry. It needed minor repairs and cleaning.
It was also a chance to look at the full scene unobstructed. We can see a lush forest with a village and figures but most importantly, we see the Greek naiad Daphne transforming into laurel tree to avoid Apollo's pursuit.
: 1. Person with a headlamp on a ladder in front of a tapestry in the dining room. 2. Center view of the textile with forest, village, and around five figures in the foreground, including a woman with tree arms. 3. Close-up of the tapestry, a women whose fingers are branches.
Happy ! Come by for a tour of join a program. Here's what's coming up this week:
*Miss Jewett and Mrs. Fields, a Boston Marriage (virtual program)-- Wednesday, March 23 at 6:30.
*Hidden Spaces of the Nichols House Museum (specialty tour)-- Saturday, March 26 at 2:00.
*Tours of the museum-- Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and some Sundays (check website for schedule and tickets).
: 1. Green bulb leaves popping up out of the ground. 2. Two staff standing in front of the entrance of the museum.
Nicknamed “the Joan of Arc of the Civil Services” and the “Champion of the Underdog,” Marian Clarke Nichols was deeply engaged in the politics of her community. Following the ratification of the 19th amendment in August 1920, which stated women have the right to
vote, Marian began a campaign to serve as the representative of Ward 8 in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. While she would lose her campaign, Marian went on to found the still-active Beacon Hill Civic Association two years later, and continued to fight for social reform up the hill at the Massachusetts State House.
Almost 100 years after Marian Nichols’s run for office, Michelle Wu would be the first women and first person of color to be elected as the mayor of Boston. While Wu currently faces very different sociopolitical issues than those Nichols might have addressed in her time,
both imagined a world in which more people had a say in the governing of Massachusetts. Happy Women's History Month!
(This post comes from Kate Criscitiello, NHM spring intern.)
1. Marian Nichols's 1920 campaign advertisement text that reads, "Eights Suffolk Representative District vote for Marian Clarke Nichols, Independent Candidate for Ward S, Tuesday, November 2, 1920, "Public Office if a Public Trust".
2. Portrait photograph of Marian ca. 1920s, age 50.