Christmas in the 1885 Ballantine House


Newark Museum of Art

49 Washington Street






Nov 29, 2019 - Jan 05, 2020




Adults: $15; U.S. and Canadian Veterans & their families with valid ID: $8; Children, Seniors 65+, as well as Teachers & Students with valid IDs: $8 (2 years and younger: FREE); Members: FREE Newark Residents: FREE


The Newark Museum of Art Welcomes Visitors to Experience Christmas in the 1885 Ballantine House

Get a Glimpse of Late Victorian Newark during the Holidays;

Tours available through January 5

For many modern-day families, observing Christmas means hanging stockings, making treats for Santa Claus, and preparing a holiday feast. But did you know that in 1891, some families held an open-house Christmas Eve tea for the neighborhood and that children also set out wooden shoes for Santa along with their stockings?

These are just two examples of the things visitors can learn when The Newark Museum of Art transforms its historic Ballantine House into a Christmas celebration of late Victorian-era Newark. Visitors will see how English, German, and Dutch holiday traditions set the stage for today’s festivities. The Holiday Tour is available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. through Sunday, January 5, 2020.

From the Christmas tree (a German tradition) to wooden shoes by the hearth (a Dutch tradition) to stockings on the chimney and plum pudding in the dining room (English traditions), visitors will see how Christmas evolved from a church-centered celebration into a home-based secular holiday. This annual, family-friendly presentation depicts three holiday events as they might have happened in 1891. Each room is meticulously decorated to offer a glimpse into many cherished activities of the era.

Built in 1885 for Jeannette and John Holme Ballantine of the celebrated Newark beer-brewing family, the brick and limestone mansion has been part of the Newark Museum of Art since 1937. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985. While it is open for visitors year-round, the Ballantine House offers this special touch of nostalgia each winter.

“Through elaborate displays of food, each taken from Victorian cookbooks, and decorations that include evergreens, holly, and mistletoe, we get a unique look into the Victorian era and a look at the similarities and the differences between Christmas in America, both then and now,” said Amy Simon Hopwood, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts for The Newark Museum of Art.

A flickering fireplace welcomes you as you enter the home. In the Parlor, visitors can imagine what the open-house Christmas Eve tea might have looked like. Toys are in place under a Christmas tree, sparkling with period glass ornaments, from the Museum’s Decorative Arts collection. In the Library, the stockings, wooden clogs, and treats are set out for Santa Claus, and of course, the Ballantine family. In the Dining Room, visitors can witness the Christmas Day dinner that awaits the family when they return from services at the North Reformed Church just across Washington Park. It includes oysters, ham, and a traditional plum pudding.

“Many of our longtime visitors consider the Ballantine House a treasured stop in their holiday schedules,” Hopwood said. “Whether you have been here before or have never seen the Christmas display, you are sure to enjoy this treasured Newark holiday tradition.”

This event is made possible through gifts to the Ballantine House Fund. For further information, visit

Throughout December, The Newark Museum of Art invites visitors to experience a series of specialty programming created for the entire family to enjoy.  All programs are free with admission.


Holidays Around the World

Saturday, December 14 & Sunday, December 15, 1-4 pm

Learn how cultures around the world celebrate their holidays! Peruse tables set up by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of NJ, enjoy tastings of hot chocolate through the day, and at 2:30 pm experience the Fanoko Singers Kwanzaa Performance. Don’t miss our Family Fun Tour at 2 pm

Winter Solstice

Saturday, December 21 & Sunday, December 22, 1-4 pm

This weekend we celebrate Winter Solstice! Come make your very own candle, enjoy live performances, and get creative at our cupcake decorating station. Don’t miss our Family Fun Tour at 2 pm


Thursday thru Sunday, December 26, 27, 28, 29, 1-4 pm

December 26th – Faux Stained Glass

Inspired by the works of stained glass in the Museum’s collection and in Unexpected Color: A Journey Through Glass, create your own seasonal faux stained glass piece.

December 27th – Seasonal Scrolls

Design a seasonal scroll focusing on the five senses inspired by the Mandala scrolls in Beyond Zen: Japanese Buddhism Revealed.

December 28th – Create a Holiday Plate

Deck a plate with boughs of holly!  Embellish a ceramic plate with your interpretation of the glitz and glamor of the season! (For decorative purposes only)

December 29th – Paper Lotus Lanterns

Shine your light into the world!  Build a paper lotus lantern to light up the season!


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