VIVID VIEW: The Art and Science of Paint Analysis


In collaboration with conservator Dr. Susan L. Buck, VIVID VIEW exhibits photographed paint samples from historic houses throughout Virginia. Intersecting historical style with modern science, these microscopic views into cross-sections of historical paint layers reveal macroscopic trends. Colorful, abstracted images showcase historical paint as a prominent element of interior design, dictating how historical actors lived in, re-adapted, and reflected fashionable period taste.

These colorful images of history convey practical, present-day implications for interpretation, dating, and insight into eighteenth-century buildings and interiors. Featuring paint samples from 13 historic sites both private and public, VIVID VIEW blurs the poles of art and science and highlights the latest efforts in historical preservation by revealing paint as an influential element in how we decorate and who we are.

March 31, 2017 to October 31, 2017

If you are unable to come to Wilton in person to see Vivid View, please explore the digital exhibition here.

Exhibition Programs


Exhibition tours provide an engaging in-depth exploration of the beautiful images comprising VIVID VIEW and the history and science behind them. Reservation Recommended/$10.00/First Saturdays: April 1, May 6, June 3, July 1, August 5, September 2, October 7/10:30AM

Call 804-282-5936 Ext. 4 to make reservations or purchase your tickets below.


Join us this summer for coffee with the preservation and curatorial experts from historic sites featured in our exhibition VIVID VIEW: The Art and Science of Paint Analysis and discover their latest restoration initiatives. Illustrated talks explore the physical evidence and review the curatorial process followed by a panel conversation with those in attendance. Optional exhibition tours follow.
Reservations Recommended/$15 ea. or register for all three for $40 HERE.

STRATFORD HALL Friday, June 16, 10:00 – 11:00AM
Phil Mark, Director of Preservation & Gretchen Pendleton, Curator
Enjoy a first look at the on-going restoration of Stratford Hall’s Dining Room to its early nineteenth century appearance including re-installation of the original Federal era woodwork.
Reserve your seat HERE.

MONTPELIER Friday, July 28, 10:00 – 11:00AM
Jennifer Glass, Director of Historic Preservation & Teresa Teixeira, Curator of Collections
Immersive exploration of the transformative restoration of James and Dolley Madison’s sophisticated Drawing Room. 
Reserve your seat HERE.
MONTICELLO Friday, August 25 10:00 – 11:00AM
Gardiner Hallock, Director of Restoration & Diane Ehrenpreis, Associate Curator
Discover the evidence and reasoning behind the most recent interior restoration efforts of Thomas Jefferson’s bedchamber and study.
Reserve your seat HERE.


School’s out for the summer, but there is still a place the young student in your home can learn and have a good time. Bring the family by for a tour of the historic house, geared for elementary and middle school aged children, followed by a special activity related to Wilton’s current exhibition, VIVID VIEW: The Art and Science of Paint Analysis.

Wednesday, June 28; 1:00PM
Create your own miniature room. Explore the historic house to find inspiration for your own miniature room.

Wednesday, July 26; 1:00PM
After taking a special tour of Wilton’s current exhibition and learning about the importance of paint create your own masterpiece. Learn some of the basics of painting a still life in order to create your own work of art.

Wednesday, August 23; 1:00PM
Paint doesn’t make itself. Create some color of your own by extracting pigments from other resources in order to mix and make your perfect color.


Art Under the Microscope
With Dr. Susan L. Buck, Ph.D., Conservator and Paint Analyst
Thursday, September 14, 2017; 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Explore the hidden world of materials beneath the surface of fine art to discover what they can tell us about the history and hidden meaning of works of fine and decorative arts. 
$10 with Light Reception