Reflections: Furniture, Silver, and Paintings in Early America October 11-December 28, 2003. Elvehjem Museum of Art. This exhibition investigates an extraordinary collection of early American objects from the Caxambus Foundation in Wisconsin. It explores the complex functions and meanings of these assorted paintings, furniture forms and silver artifacts to the people who made, used, and admired them in early America. Specifically, it considers the idea of reflection both as a mode of self-perception and as a highly valued material property. Reflection has many meanings. People engage in reflection when they contemplate an idea or remember something or someone from the past. Objects literally create reflection through their physical interaction with light. Finally, objects—whether shiny or not—are a reflection of the status and tastes of the owners. The curators of this exhibition considered these meanings and more by asking a wide range of questions about the important objects shown here and about the people who made and used them. Scientists, philosophers, architects, and craftspeople all considered the problem of light and reflection in the eighteenth century. Lighting the darkness was expensive and messy. Throughout this time, people used reflective materials for glitter and reflection to enhance light in a room. Benjamin Franklin even proposed daylight savings time to make better use of natural sunlight, thus preventing the extraordinary expense of artificial lighting from candles and oil lamps. By the end of the eighteenth century, several important technologies were in place to improve light output from traditional fuel sources of candles and oil. By asking how these objects were experienced in a more dimly lit home, this exhibition asks the visitor to wonder what life was like when there were no electric lights. The objects in this exhibition were made and enjoyed when daylight limited one’s time and use of particular rooms and chimney hearths gathered people to warmth. So wondering about light, the questions quickly flow: how did eighteenth-century people construct and organize objects to heighten and direct light and heat? How did the addition of artificial lighting transform ideas about the use of time? How does these changes reflect the philosophy of Enlightenment and its ideas about man’s capacity to observe and understand? Ultimately, the answers to these questions about reflection tell us about both early Americans and us and the things we display in our own homes.