- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2006

WILLIAMSBURG (AP) — The Governor’s Palace at Colonial Williamsburg is set to reopen Friday, after having been closed for about a month for its first significant reinterpretation in a quarter-century.

The makeover is tied to the upcoming “Revolutionary City” program.

Beginning March 20, the palace and other historic area sites, as well as Colonial Williamsburg’s costumed interpreters, will bring to life the period from 1774 to 1781.

At the palace, rooms are being changed to look as they did during the term of Virginia’s last royal governor, Lord Dunmore, who lived there with his wife and children until 1775.

Before the refurbishing began, the palace largely looked as it did during the term of Dunmore’s predecessor, Lord Botetourt, a bachelor who died in 1770.

Since Jan. 16, more than 140 employees and contractors have been putting up new displays, hanging wallpaper and completing other tasks.

One of the most visible changes is the disappearance of a sunburst-shaped arrangement of muskets from the front hall’s ceiling.

Colonial Williamsburg historians determined that such an arrangement was unlikely in the 18th century.

The number of muskets, swords and pistols on display has increased, from 360 to 540. The walls of the front hall and stairway also feature new arrangements of weapons, which can be taken apart easily.

“If you ever needed to go into battle, it would be very simple to remove all of these,” said Robert Leath, curator for historic interiors.

Another curator, Erik Goldstein, visited two historic houses in England to study their displays of guns and swords for this project.

While the work has been under way, Colonial Williamsburg has offered behind-the-scenes tours to visitors with a special ticket and reservation.

As the palace reopens, other points of interest will close for a sprinkler system overhaul.

The Public Hospital and DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum will close March 6, with the hospital and the museum’s introductory gallery reopening in May.

The rest of the museum will stay closed until year’s end, but some of its collection will be displayed in the introductory gallery.

Work also will continue on the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum’s new building, scheduled to open in December or January.

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