Reopening to the public this week, the Ballantine House will offer visitors new experiences through installations that celebrate Newark’s dynamic heritage and the Black and immigrant communities that built it. It will also spotlight the museum’s contemporary art and decorative arts collections.
A public ribbon-cutting will be celebrated Friday with remarks by Linda Harrison, director and CEO of the Newark Museum of Art.
The Ballantine House presents an innovative historic house interpretation, revealing untold stories of 19th- and early 20th-century Newark. As visitors move through the 1885 mansion, they will learn the stories of the Ballantine family, who made their fortune in the beer industry, of the Irish, British and European immigrants who worked in or built the house, and of the African American community who lived nearby.
A main goal of the reimagined Ballantine House is to give Newarkers a greater sense of civic pride, inspiring them to learn more about their city’s history and to feel empowered to participate in its future.
Located at 43 Washington St., the Ballentine House is a three-story, 27-room brick and sandstone mansion built for Jeanette and John Holme Ballantine and their four children. The house sits across the street from Harriet Tubman Square. The Ballantine House, however, is the only urban mansion of its kind in the area that is open to the public. It’s a rare example of a late Victorian mansion frozen in time. Few homes from the period remain in such pristine condition, especially in an urban context, across America.
The Ballantine House’s interpretive galleries and period rooms will offer visitors an unprecedented interactive and engaging experience. Audio-visual elements, such as soundscapes, illuminated stained glass and fireplace, and period-specific “secret phones” will provide an enhanced multisensory experience, bringing this static space to life. Visitors will feel as though they have stepped back in time, immersed in late 19th-century Newark.
Under the leadership of Harrison, the Newark Museum of Art has launched an era of transformation to create an engaged citizenry by reimagining the role of the art museum for the 21st century. This ethos is pervasive throughout the new Ballantine House’s emphasis on visitor-centric interactivity and accessibility.