All of which is to say: on Monday I went to Jefferson's estate Monticello and I took the Behind the Scenes tour! Weirdly enough, no audio-animatronics were involved.
Under normal circumstances, no photography is allowed inside the Monticello house as some items are on loan. My understanding is that the standard tour goes through the first floor only - but for an additional fee, we were taken to the second and third floors as well. On the third floor, there are a few explicit places we were allowed to take pictures; specifically, the octagonal room and the "cuddy," a connected little space Jefferson's granddaughters like to play.
By contrast, the guy who did the slave quarters tour was matter-of-fact and unbiased. He walked us along Mulberry Row where the cabins were, along with other buildings like the smithy and joinery. He talked a lot about how Jefferson sought to improve slave conditions but tempered it with less rosy discussion of the realities of ownership.
There is a movie about the construction of Monticello in the visitor's center, but we didn't have time to take that in. Other things we missed: we didn't give the Crossroads (under the house) a thorough perusal, nor did we take the garden tour, which is supposedly more about Jefferson's gardening philosophies than the contents of the garden itself; we also didn't check out the archaeological dig. So much to do, so little time!
We did visit the gift shop, which in addition to the expected t-shirts and mugs had some cute items with a historical flair; I bought Elizabeth some scone mix for her birthday (and I hope she doesn't read this before I give it to her. If she does: you'll never guess the flavor, Elisabet!).
In short, if you have an interest in American history, I would very much recommend a visit to Monticello. Jefferson was of course a consummate Renaissance man, and there is much to interest just about anyone who enjoys The American Adventure at Epcot. And who doesn't?
I will leave you with the song that played on loop in my head at Monticello. Now then, sir: will you be a patriot, or a lover?
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