Portland, OR. Ever wonder what it was like to eat and drink in the late 19th century? Pittock Mansion‘s latest exhibit – Dining in the Gilded Age – will immerse you in the manners and culture of a bygone era. For the next four months you can explore the gadgets used to prepare foods and feasts circa 1900 and the specialized china and silverware used to serve them. As cooks and hostesses responded to a new abundance of tableware, tools, utensils, and foodstuffs, American dining customs reached elaborate new heights, unmatched before or since.

Gilded Age dinners featured a style of glass for every type of beverage as well as specialized decanters, pitchers, and punchbowls.

Grand centerpieces and serving dishes demonstrated a household’s wealth and sophistication

Etiquette rules played a prominent role in Gilded Age parties including dressing for dinner.

The exhibit will also feature a new Hands-On History artifact cart, Kitchen Gadgets and Gizmos, that will allow visitors to get a feel for what it was like to use some of the innovate tools behind those elaborate Gilded Age dinners–with the help of Plah-Doh, of course.

Dining in the Gilded Age is on view July 14 – November 11 and is included with general admission. Admission for adults is $11.

Key themes of the exhibit:

1) The Gilded Age is defined by massive industrialization across America with economic focus shifting from agriculture to industry.

2) The Gilded Age was a time of innovations and inventions.

3) While the Gilded Age had a tendency to focus on the disparities between the wealthy and the poor, the era also saw the rise of the middle class who aspired to a higher level and often demonstrated their success by owning and displaying decorative objects as well as the latest in kitchen gadgets and dinnerware. 

PITTOCK MANSION | With picture-perfect views of rivers, forests, bridges, and mountaintops – and 23 treasure-filled rooms – no other place in town offers a more breathtaking view and more revealing glimpse of Portland’s past. Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock built Pittock Mansion in 1914 and it now stands as a living memorial of the family’s contributions to the blossoming city of Portland and its people. Situated on 46 acres of land almost 1,000 feet atop downtown Portland, the Pittock celebrated its centennial year in 2014.