Me answering your questions

It’s that time again. I have gotten off my lazy bum and found my way to the West Gallery to pull your sticky notes off of the wall. The stack is large, the questions thoughtful and the comments even richer than the last go around.

Q: Where are the bathrooms the Sloane’s used?

A: There is something about bathrooms that you all love and I don’t get. Don’t get me wrong, it is the one area of a home where you are isolated and can catch up with yourself through discussions in a mirror, but seriously…20th century toilet time was pretty similar to what we’ve got going now. The Sloane’s personal bathrooms are located in what is now the “office,” as well as in two additional rooms that are not currently open to the public. That said, Mr. Sloane’s shower is something to behold.

Q:Middle class, poor, or rich?

A:Rich. Need proof? Check out my Indian tapestry with gold metal threading.

Q:Is there a book or catalog on the home/family/collection?

A:Nope, but we are working on one at the moment and I will be sure to barrage you with links to buying it when it is released.

Q: Why are so many objects not labeled?

A:Touche young lady (no way this handwriting is from a guy). We get this question often and it is a good one to bring up. One thing many of you do not realize is that this museum has, throughout its existence, lacked a serious number of labels. As we dig through our archives and read into what Mrs. Sloane wanted for her collection we find that she was not going for the prototypical museum layout. There is meant to be an appreciation of the objects in her collection, as well as the space that they are in. This requires us to strike a balance between modern museum and warm, inviting homes like the one we work in. Labels can enhance the collection, but also distract. We are working to give you more to read while not overwhelming  the atmosphere.

Q: Why do they have so many pics of Abraham Lincoln?

A: Steven Spielberg asked us to promote his new movie and we naturally obliged. I kid, but seriously, if any of you know him let Steven know we will poster this place up real quick. The real answer is that all of these works are associated with an artist named Douglas Volk. This fine gentleman was the son of Leonard Volk who is well known for producing the plaster casts of Abraham Lincolns face and hands. Douglas latched on to his father’s connection with Lincoln and produced numerous pieces of the president. We have them because Mrs. Sloane was a big supporter of Douglas and often commissioned him to do portrait work for the family. Florence would go on to purchase numerous works by Volk many of which are of Lincoln.

Q: What were the Sloane’s original plans for the home?

A: It started as a five room summer cottage in 1908 and that was pretty much it. They had a home in South Norfolk at the time, so there wasn’t any significant urgency to make this their permanent residence. 1916 saw the first major expansion and then they just kept adding on until we get to the structure we have today.

Q: Are there any descendants?

A: Yes, one. She is the daughter of William Jr. and she is a fantastic human being. We shan’t be going into her personal life because that is her business and not yours.


Here are a few things people put on the wall that aren’t questions:

“This house is awesome.” There are about 10 of these in various wording all of which I agree with.

“Woodwork here, um YES!” Double agree…no, triple agree with this one

“Your docent Paul is amazing, best tour i’ve ever had.” I will put a gold star beside Paul’s name on the docent chart because of this. He works Tuesdays btws.

“Never tear this place down.” We don’t want to, but unless those memberships start coming in we might have to knock it over and put in a McWalBucks. 

“The view is tremendous! can you imagine waking up to a view like this every day!” I don’t wake up to it, but I do often find myself staring out into the river wishing I was a mummichog …it’s a fish (I would make you look this up, but Ive got a feeling this something many of you read at work and would get blasted for Google searching. My answer to your boss, “Uhhh it’s an art blog, I’m getting cultured. Oh, and they support the environment.” BOOM!) 


Sloane wears for the fall air


William Sloane moved to Norfolk, VA with his young bride in 1893. The reason for his departure from New York City…. underwear….. okay, it wasn’t just underwear but it is placed before outerwear on this advertisement signifying its importance. 

William, 19 years of age, arrived in the Berkley section of South Norfolk to assist his uncle Baron Black with the operation of textile mills along the Elizabeth River. By 1905 Black passed away leaving William in control of four mills.  Business was good through America’s entrance into World War I when the military and Mr. Sloane signed a very hefty contract that would supply troops with Sloane underwear….making business super good (deep vocabulary, I know). William would maintain control of the mills into the twenties before selling them off in search of new business ventures.

So when you are sliding on those ever so sexy long johns this fall just stop and think about William Sloane  and let history keep you warm.