Cranbury History Museum Exhibits

February 2020 - June 2020 - The 1700s House - A Rediscovered Connection to 18th Century Cranbury

This exhibit at the Cranbury Museum tells the story of the 1700s House.  Recently rediscovered and saved by the Cranbury Historical and Preservation Society, the 1770s House was relocated to Millstone Park. This 18th Century House has ties to the East Jersey Proprietors, a land deed from 1693, early Cranbury families and the American Revolution.

August 2019 - October 2019 - Southern Folk Life

Featuring the photographs, music, folk art and historical artifacts from the collection of Cranbury resident Jerry Pevahouse. See this post and interview for more information.

October 2019 - July 2019 - The History of the Cranbury Police

This popular exhibit depicts the early beginnings of an organized police force in the community. Starting with the use of constables, then a close association with the New Jersey State Troopers, the township transitioned to a part-time police department. By the 1960s, Cranbury established its first full-time staff. The museum exhibit contains pictures, articles, equipment, uniforms, firearms and artifacts from the early years to present.

March 2018 - September 2019 - When George Came to Cranbury: June 26, 1778

The exhibit, When George Came to Cranbury: June 26,1778, opened at the Cranbury Museum on Sunday, March 11. This exhibit featured items representative of the period when George Washington and his troops marched into Cranbury on their way to the Battle of Monmouth. Copies of Washington's correspondence from Cranbury along with pictures and ephemera depicting Colonial Cranberry Town were included.

The museum featured the recreated dining room of Dr. Hezekiah and Mary Stites, who hosted Washington, Hamilton and Lafayette at their home on South Main Street (Lawrie's Road.)

September 2017 - February 2018 - Millinery on Main Street: Mrs. Harder’s Hat Shoppe

During the early 20th century, Mrs. Emma Harder had a hat shop on Main St. in Cranbury. Our next exhibit features hats, purses, gloves and accessories representative of items featured in Mrs. Harder's Shoppe. Hats and accessories from the 1930s through the Sixties are also included in the exhibit. Step into Mrs. Harder's Hat Shoppe and embrace a shopping experience from the past.

February 2017 to September 2017 - Vinyl: A Magical History Tour

This exhibit features the best of vinyl records and their accompanying album covers. From Sousa through Springsteen, the exhibit will provide a tour of notable vinyl through the decades. Warm up your winter days and visit us on a Sunday afternoon in February to view this lively collection. This exhibit will continue on Sundays, 1-4 p.m., through mid August.

February 2016 to February 2017 - Sparkle and Shine: A Century of Costume Jewelry

The Cranbury Historical and Preservation Society presents a new exhibit featuring a fabulous collection of costume jewelry from the 20th century. This exhibit features over four hundred pieces of costume jewelry. Famous makers such as Trifari, Weiss, Danecraft, Coro, Marcel Boucher, Sarah Coventry, Carolee, Napier, Hollycraft, Kramer, Florenza, Monet and Christian Dior are included in the collection. Pearls, rhinestones, cameos, mother of pearl, Bakelite and marcasite are represented in the exhibit along with over seventy-five Christmas pins.

September 2015 to February 2016 - Depression Glass: Candy-Colored Glass of the Depression Era

March 29, 2015 to August 30, 2015 - Stults Farm, Est. 1915: 100 Years of Family Farming

February 2015 - August 2016 - Merchants of Main Street: A Stroll Through the Shoppes of Cranbury's Past

This exhibit celebrates the creativity, hard work and entrepreneurial skills of the Main Street Merchants of the 18th, 19th & 20th centuries. Resilient to hard economic times, willing to risk a new venture or team with a new partner, the merchants of Main Street persevered. Our oldest continuing business, The Cranbury Inn, was established in the 1780s. A.S. Cole, started in 1860 as a furniture and funeral business, continues to operate as a funeral business today. The Cranbury Pharmacy, established by James Walker in 1876, operated for 120 years until the pharmacy business was sold in 1996. Main Street was filled with a diversity of businesses – general stores and candy stores, millinery and hat shops, blacksmith and harness shops, banks and newspaper offices. Through the centuries, Main Street met the needs of the Cranbury shopper. Come take a stroll down Main Street, visit our merchants and view their wares and services!

September 21, 2014 to February 22, 2015 - Form, Function and Fine: Two Hundred Years of American Ceramics

From teacups to chamber sets, New Jersey to California, the Cranbury Historical and Preservation Society presents a new exhibit, providing a sample of American ceramics from the 19th and 20th century. Redware, Yellowware, Spongeware and salt glazed crocks will be displayed along with early Lenox and Trenton pottery. Roseville, Stangl, Pfaltzgraff and Homer Laughlin pieces are some of the other American ceramics featured.

April 27, 2014 to August 31, 2014 - “At Long Last...Summer."

Featuring treasures of the sea and seashore, the exhibit includes oil paintings, watercolors, a rare sea glass collection, antique whale bone, shells, Sailor valentines, ephemera, and vintage toys and souvenirs.

December 8, 2013 to April 6, 2014 - The Shimer Cookie Jar Collection on Exhibit The Shimer Cookie Jar Collection features an extensive assortment of whimsical and delightful cookie jars assembled by long-time Cranbury resident and artist, Wilma Shimer. The exhibit includes kitchen accessories such as tablecloths, aprons, cookie cutters, rolling pins, cookbooks and recipes. One special item on display is the Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls” which was published in 1957 and featured a test panel of twelve Cranbury boys and girls.

April 28, 2013 to August 4, 2013 - The Look of Love - Bridal Fashions of the Twentieth Century

"The Look of Love - Bridal Fashions of the Twentieth Century" featured wedding gowns, dresses and accessories from 1901 though the 1990's. A large collection of photographs, cards, wedding gifts, and assorted ephemera that span the century was on display. The Cranbury Museum hosted Peters Estes who presented her program entitled: Wedding Customs and Traditions. The program was held at the Cranbury Museum on Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 2:00. The program was free and open to the public.

December 2012 - April 2013: Dollhouse Exhibit

Please read this article from the Star-Ledger.

October 2012 - December 2012: Victorian Mourning Exhibit

Victorian society was fascinated by death and spirituality. Elaborate rules surrounded the etiquette of mourning. In the mid-1800s, the combination of England’s Queen Victoria’s obsession with the death of her husband Prince Albert and the U.S. Civil War’s horrendous casualty rate created a cultural climate in which Americans—particular women—embraced many of these new rules and customs. In "Fashionably Late--Costumes and Customs of the Victorian Mourning Period" a free exhibit running Sunday afternoons from 1:00PM to 4:00PM through Nov. 18, the Cranbury Historical and Preservation Society has on display dresses, jewelry, literature, and other historic objects related to Victorian mourning. These range from elaborate lace-and-beaded black gowns, to engraved memorial cards, to a tiny pair of child’s black kid-leather mourning shoes.

On Nov. 4 at 2:00PM, there will be a related special event co-sponsored by the Cranbury Public Library. Professional history re-enactor Jane Peters Estes will present “Grave Matters” a program offering a tongue-in-cheek look at customs surrounding death and dying. Appearing in Victorian costume, Ms. Estes will talk about mourning customs during the Civil War, the dying words of famous individuals, and headstone epitaphs.

For the ongoing museum exhibit, curator Lisa Beach has pulled items from the museum’s extensive textile collection, and several local families have made special loans of some of their own heirlooms.

Among the mourning customs she discovered in her research:

For a woman, mourning lasted two years. During the second year of “half mourning” it was permissible to wear gray or purple. Only black was allowed in the first year.Etiquette experts were divided on whether it was necessary for a child to dress in mourning wear, but capes, bonnets and shoes that have been passed on show that some children did so.Mirrors in households were draped, so the deceased person’s spirit would not get trapped in the glass.When mourning ended, it was considered bad luck to keep the clothing, so owners discarded it or passed it on.

By the World War I era the customs had faded, likely because there was so much death that mourners chose to move on with their lives more quickly. But many of these exquisitely made Victorian objects have survived.

“For the Victorians, mourning was a time of great sadness but much beauty as well,” Ms. Beach said. Visitors may also tour the museum’s other permanent exhibits, which include five rooms of household and decorative items and furniture that help depict life in Cranbury through the ages.

October 2011 - October 2012: Scouting Through the Years

This exhibit features memorabilia from current and past Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts who live in the Cranbury area. The Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, and this year the Girl Scouts of the United States of America is celebrating 100 years since its founding. These organizations have been an important part of our local and national history. November 2011 - January 2012: Here Comes Santa Claus

"Here Comes Santa Claus" Featuring toys that have been part of the Christmas celebration through the years. On display are action toys, many varieties of colorful board games with beautiful lithograph printing from the 19