Skip to main content

Revisiting Monticello’s History

A new Smithsonian exhibit explores Thomas Jefferson’s plantation

Mulberry Row at Monticello Photo courtesy of Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello

Thomas Jefferson’s Albemarle County plantation, Monticello, has been restored in recent decades to better reflect the history of the site and its inhabitants. Not only are the lives of Jefferson and his family members integral to the story of Monticello, but the lives of the enslaved people who worked there are equally important.

George Granger Sr., whom Thomas Jefferson appointed to be Monticello’s overseer in 1796 Photo courtesy of UVA Special Collections
In January, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History unveiled “Slavery at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.” The exhibit follows the family lines of several of Jefferson’s slaves, as well as the evolution of the land and buildings at Monticello.

“Once a sacral architectural monument to Jefferson’s genius, Monticello has evolved into a more complex reflection of the man and the 5,000-acre plantation that he owned,” wrote Edward Rothstein in a New York Times review of the exhibit.

At Monticello, there is a companion exhibit by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, “Landscape of Slavery: Mulberry Row at Monticello,” which opened in mid-February.

For more information, visit