The Andrew Jackson Visitor Center and The First Hermitage contain exhibits that reveal much about the Jacksons and The Hermitage.
Andrew Jackson Visitor Center Gallery
The Hermitage: Frontier Farm to American Landmark
How did this 1,000-acre property evolve from a modest frontier farm to Andrew Jackson’s prosperous and extensive cotton plantation? The Hermitage: Frontier Farm to American Landmark tells that story. The exhibit also carries the story forward, through the farm’s deterioration in the years after Jackson’s death and its eventual preservation as a national landmark.
“The history of The Hermitage mirrors American history. Indians, westward expansion, slavery, freedom, women’s roles, cotton, and industrialization are all part of our story,” states Marsha Mullin, Chief Curator and Vice-President of Museum Services. “This makes The Hermitage the ideal place to learn more about Jacksonian America.”
In addition, Frontier Farm to American Landmark takes a closer look at the changes at the Hermitage mansion inside and out. The exhibit explains the construction and furnishing of The Hermitage. Who did the work? Who selected the furniture and wallpapers? Visitors can view some of the post-1845 family furniture no longer exhibited in the mansion. The exhibit gives special attention to one of our visitors’ favorite questions: “What happened to The Hermitage after Andrew Jackson’s death?” The answers may surprise you!
Other Visitor Center Exhibits
Stories of the Hermitage Slave Community
The Hermitage story is not just about Andrew Jackson and his family. In fact, we cannot tell the Jackson family story without the stories of the 150 enslaved laborers who lived and worked at The Hermitage. Whether house slave, skilled artisan, or field hand, each one made an important contribution to The Hermitage. From 1804 to 1865, slaves were born, purchased, lived, sold, and died on The Hermitage, but their story is not well known.
Only recently has an image of the Hermitage enslaved community begun to emerge. Scant documents, archaeology, and oral tradition provide what we know. In addition, a small number of photographs of Hermitage slaves exist, all dating from after Emancipation. Stories from the Hermitage Slave Community gives voice to the enslaved. Eight banners combine images of their worn hands and faces with personal information about them. These stories and images reflect the struggle and contributions of individuals and families who supported the Hermitage plantation and the Jackson family.
Funds provided by the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority helped made Stories from the Hermitage Slave Community possible.
Portraits and Possessions
In the Visitor Center Hallway, portraits of Andrew Jackson from 1817 to 1835 show the face and character of the seventh president. Jackson’s Brewster carriage occupies a small gallery. In addition, some of his personal possessions – pistols, presentation swords, watches, and other objects—show that, although the Washington elite feared that Jackson would be a rough frontiersman, he had acquired the trappings of a gentleman.
First Hermitage: Worlds Apart, Side by Side
At the First Hermitage, exhibit panels and archaeological artifacts tell a remarkable American story. From 1804 to 1821, the First Hermitage housed future United States President Andrew Jackson and his family. Here, Jackson lived out, and became a symbol of, the American Dream—the belief that anyone can rise to great success. After Jackson moved to his new brick mansion in 1821, he altered his old two-story log farmhouse to a one-story slave cabin. Until the Civil War, these buildings sheltered some of Jackson’s enslaved workers, a group of people for whom freedom remained a dream deferred.