Grills Gallery

Research & Collections

The Joe and Marge Grills Gallery at the Montpelier Visitor Center is the location of a rotating “Treasures of Montpelier” exhibit. This state of the art exhibit venue features rare and significant objects owned by or related to the Madisons, works of fine art, historical documents, and archaeological artifacts from Montpelier’s permanent collection as well as items on loan from museums and private collections. Significant pieces, such as Dolley Madison’s engagement ring and James Madison’s walking stick, are displayed in the climate- and light-controlled gallery. Recent rotating exhibits have featured artistic depictions of Montpelier, items associated with Montpelier’s enslaved community, and rare porcelain.

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Updates to the Presidential Detective Story are revealed in July 2013

Recent developments in Montpelier's extensive research initiative to relocate Madison objects and restore the mansion interiors, known as the Presidential Detective Story, are now on display with a new exhibit in the Grills Gallery. Visitors can view two newly conserved cabinet paintings with strong Madison provenance. The subject matter of these two oil paintings, on generous loan to Montpelier, closely matches descriptions found on the ca. 1837 manuscript titled "Oil paintings at Montpellier." 

Additionally, the story behind the Madisons' French chairs is once again on exhibit. Documentary evidence, paint microscopy, and wood sampling all provided clues in piecing together the provenance of the original suite, and informed the 2011 acquisition of a nearly identical period set to furnish the Montpelier drawing room. 

The Founding Friendship and Enduring Legacy of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, October 13, 2012 - July 2, 2013

October 13, 2012 marked the opening of The Founding Friendship and Enduring Legacy of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, an exhibit highlighting the personal friendship and political partnership of the Father of the Constitution and the author of the Declaration of Independence. Objects on display in the Grills Gallery include a walking stick bequeathed to Madison upon Jefferson's death and Madison's original notes from his journey with Jefferson to the Northern Lakes in 1791. A companion symposium by the same title, featuring lectures by Ralph Ketcham, David Mattern, Andrew Burstein, Nancy Isenberg, Sue Perdue, and Jack Rakove, was held the same day. The exhibition closed on July 2, 2013.