The Hermitage Museum has two main collections: the Hermitage Collection, owned by the State of New Jersey and for which the Friends have stewardship responsibility, and the Friends of the Hermitage Collection. The Hermitage Collection comprises items acquired through the estate of Mary Elizabeth Rosencrantz; the Friends’ Collection comprises items donated by private individuals since 1972.
In these collections, the Hermitage Museum acquires, preserves, and conserves objects from 1750 through the 20th century. The collections are noted for their range of historic objects and clothing, as well as personal items and papers relating to the Rosencrantz family who inhabited the property for 163 years.
- The Hermitage Historic House: The Hermitage is furnished as it appeared in the 1890s and shows the influence of one family’s continuous occupation of the house from 1807 to that time. As such, the furnishings and other objects on display in the historic house are largely Victorian, but they includes items that date back to the 18th century. Since the Rosencrantz family continued to live in The Hermitage well into the 20th century, items from this period are included in the collection, as well, but are not displayed in the house. These items can be seen in a variety of exhibitions and are available for study by qualified researchers by appointment.
- Decorative arts: Objects include paintings, portraits, prints, decorative metal and wooden frames, Victorian-period household items such as kitchenware, tableware, lamps, and tools dating to the mid-19th century.
- Toys, games, and recreation: Objects include Victorian dolls, athletic trophies won by Rosencrantz family members, musical instruments, and a wide variety of toys and games.
Friends of the Hermitage Collection
- Costumes and textiles: The Friends of the Hermitage has one of the largest collections of textiles in the region, numbering more than 10,000 items. It includes men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing dating from 1750 to 1943
- Personal accessories: Objects include hats, shoes, parasols, belts, jewelry, and neckwear.
- Linens: Objects include table linens, bedding, and window coverings from 1790 to 1940.
A wide-ranging and diverse archival collection provides a glimpse into the past of the Rosencrantz family, the surrounding region, and New Jersey and American history as a whole. The material provides an important source for both students and scholars to work with primary source materials. The archives are accessible to qualified researchers by appointment. Among the items in the collection are:
- Personal correspondence between family, friends, and businesses between 1778 and 1970. These documents offer a unique view of the times in which they were written. Examples of these papers are the recently acquired invitation from Theodosia Prevost to George Washington during the Revolutionary War and a letter written from Baltimore by one member of the Rosencrantz to another here in Ho-Ho-Kus immediately after the bombardment of Fort Sumter explaining the mood of the city’s populace and his fear that the Union would not remain intact.
- Financial correspondence and records between family members and businesses. These documents trace the Rosencrantz family’s business interests and pursuits, which included an early 19th century medical practice and a cotton mill. They present a detailed view of 19th century business practices and procedures.
- Family’s paper ephemera, including business and calling cards, mourning stationery, maps, tickets, golf cards and related paraphernalia, 19th century theater programs, sheet music, birth certificates and marriage records, newspapers, and magazines.