No matter how many times you’ve visited Monticello, there’s always something new to see and experience. Jefferson’s vision is very much alive and constantly being reevaluated and presented in new ways as historians and archaeologists discover new things and glean new insights.
The Griffin Discovery Room gives Monticello visitors—especially those ages 6 to 11—the chance to literally get in touch with Jefferson’s life and times through hands-on elements and activities, including reproductions from the house and plantation.
For visitors to Monticello of all ages, here are 4 reasons this historic landmakrt is a must-see…
Landscape of Slavery Exhibition
A primary purpose of this site has become the illumination of slavery. Landscape of Slavery: Mulberry Row shares with Monticello visitors the stories of the dynamic, industrial hub of Jefferson’s 5,000-acre agricultural enterprise. The exhibition features thirteen site-based panels with interpretive text, images of historical text, and recreations of artifacts excavated by Monticello’s archaeologists.
The exhibition can be self-guided, experienced in conjunction with the Slavery at Monticello Tours or with the new app, Slavery at Monticello: Work and Life on Mulberry Row.
When you’re visiting Monticello, you should consider this unique tour. It really is behind-the-scenes, leading you through rarely-seen rooms on the second and third floors. Participants will learn about Jefferson’s family members and slaves who lived and worked there.
In addition, visitors will also learn about the design and layout of Monticello’s upper floors and learn the restoration ideas and plans underway to restore selected rooms. As the tour involves climbing very steep and narrow stairs, it is not recommended for anyone who has difficulty climbing stairs and children must be able to walk up on their own.
The tour is not handicapped accessible. Visitors will conclude their tour in the cellar of Monticello where they can view the newly installed “Crossroads” exhibition.
Behind-the-Scenes Tours are offered at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm. $37
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello ‘Crossroads’
The cellar level of the Monticello house was a horizontal and vertical crossroads. There, enslaved domestic workers, Jefferson family members, slaves accompanying Monticello visitors, waggoners delivering supplies, and any other people using Monticello’s “service entrance” all crossed paths and interacted.
This exhibit combines artifacts, life-size figures, and informational panels to give Monticello visitors a sense of this buzz of activity and introduce them to some of the people who worked to sustain the Jefferson household.
Visiting Monticello’s Dining Room
The transformation of Monticello’s Dining Room was the centerpiece of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s restoration initiatives in 2010. The repainting and refurnishing of the room presents a more historically accurate interpretation of the space, provides visitors with fresh insights into domestic life at Monticello during Jefferson’s time, and highlights Jefferson’s celebrated ingenuity and taste. (You’ll see Jefferson’s revolving doors with shelves, dumbwaiters, and the wine dumbwaiters to the cellar.)
Jefferson is equally well-known for his appreciation of wine. The restored Wine Cellar, located in the passageway beneath the house and connected to the Dining Room by a dumbwaiter system, provides detailed information about Jefferson’s interest in wine.
Photo Credit: Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation