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Framing the West at Monticello Whereabouts of Most of Jefferson's Collection In , the year before he died, Jefferson wrote a letter to William Clark in which he clearly signaled his intention to give his collection to the University of Virginia, the foundation of which he referred to as the "hobby of his old age. Those of Indian arts stand very near to nature itself. Your situation is so favble for assisting us in this collection that I cannot help soliciting your attention to us.
I give to the Univ. Lewis to the Pacific. The ultimate fate of much of the collection remains a mystery however. In October , according to the records of the meetings of the Visitors trustees of the University, a room on the first floor of the Rotunda "was to be finished and fitted for the reception of the natural and artificial curiosities given to the University by the late venerable Rector ; and to have them there suitably arranged for preservation and exhibition.
In the objects were moved from the first floor of the Rotunda to the basement to make room for scientific apparatus; the next year they moved to the upper gallery. In the Visitors approved the creation of a Museum in the basement story. In Franklin Peale, one of the sons of Charles Willson Peale who ran the Peale Museum after his father's death, traveled to Charlottesville to organize and arrange "the collection known under the denomination of Mr.
She reported seeing "some of Mr. In the Visitors were again required to make provisions for the collection, this time approving the purchase of additional cases. The following year it appears that the museum's location in the Rotunda was changed again to create space for more lecture rooms.
In the collection seems to have left the Rotunda; former dormitory rooms on the Lawn at the University were "appropriated to the reception of the objects in the Jefferson Museum" as well as other mineralogical and geological collections, suggesting that at this time the Jefferson collection was still understood as a concrete entity. In the Brooks Museum opened its doors on the University of Virginia grounds; it was a free standing museum of natural history, given to the University by Lewis Brooks of Rochester, New York.
A student publication, the Virginia University Magazine, had reported in that geological "specimens of Mr. Jefferson's own accumulation" would be incorporated into the new collections that had been purchased for the Brooks Museum. It is certain that other natural history specimens from Monticello's Entrance Hall, most notably the Lewis and Clark elk antlers, moose antlers acquired by Jefferson in , and mastodon bones excavated by William Clark in Kentucky following the expedition, also found a home in the Brooks Museum.
It remains unclear whether any Native American objects from Jefferson's collection were in the Brooks Museum. The Brooks Museum was dismantled in the late s, and its collections dispersed to various University departments. At the time of the dispersal, Jefferson's collection seems to have no longer survived as a recognizable entity.
The elk and moose antlers were loaned back to Monticello by the Biology department in and mastodon bones by the Geology department in All of these loans remain at Monticello. The elk antlers are thus the only original Lewis and Clark objects from Jefferson's collection to survive at Monticello today.
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August 7, After dinner the time was spent in pleasant social intercourse until two o'clock when Hon.