American Museum and Gardens
About the Company
The American Museum & Gardens opened to the public in 1961. It was the achievement of Dr. Dallas Pratt (an American psychiatrist and collector) and John Judkyn (a British born antiques dealer, who had become a United States citizen). They were an Anglo/American couple, partners in both their personal and collecting lives, and were supported by Nick Bell Knight (a furniture restorer employed at nearby Freshford Manor, Judkyn’s business base in Britain), and Ian McCallum, the Museum’s first Director.
It was a transatlantic alliance. Dallas Pratt and John Judkyn considered establishing a Museum of Americana in Britain as early as 1956, after visiting several historic house and ‘living history’ museums in the United States.
Collecting for the Museum began in earnest in 1958, facilitated by Judkyn’s business contacts – each piece testifying to the artistry of Americans and how these people had lived in the past. Panelling and floors were also shipped over to Britain, enabling period rooms from demolished buildings in America to be reconstructed within the spacious interiors of Claverton Manor.
Today, the American Museum takes you on a journey through a period of American history primarily focused on 14th – 20thcenturies. With its remarkable collection of folk, decorative arts and cultural objects, the Museum shows the diverse and complex nature of American traditions. The only museum of Americana outside of the United States, it was founded to bring American history and cultures to the people of Britain and Europe.
Each year, special temporary exhibitions are on display in our Exhibition Gallery, and throughout the year there are a range of exciting events planned, including live music, theatre, talks, yoga, and children’s activities.