Museum of Early Trades & Crafts

Permanent Exhibits

Learning from History

METC is a history museum specifically about New Jersey and the people who lived and worked here from the colonial era through the age of industrialization. And as such, we explore, interpret and help our visitors understand the history and culture of the past and how it impacts our lives today. We are fortunate to have a robust collection of artifacts from which we can craft a story and create interpretive and informative exhibits that fulfill our mission.

The Museum features a number of permanent exhibits, described below. We also mount special exhibits in our Main Gallery, which rotate approximately twice a year. There is always something new to see here at METC – please stay tuned for what is coming up next!

Working the Land

Life, Family & Change in Early 1800s New Jersey

This is METC’s newest permanent exhibit, installed Spring 2019. This exhibit tells the stories of those men and women who lived in New Jersey during the early 1800’s, exploring the tools and strategies that helped the people of the time meet the challenges of working the land. One of the focal points is discussions about “moments of change” which include new technologies, innovations, adaptations and breakthrough inventions that would eventually alter people’s lives.

Working with award winning exhibit designers, graphic artists, master millworkers and technicians, the new exhibit presents a story of daily life, struggle, ingenuity, families, hard work, and the human connection to the earth.

Lower Level Exhibits

On the museum’s Lower Level, visitors can explore how people worked together in local communities to develop a bustling economy. On display are many of the tools of the trade used by a cooper, a distiller, a cabinetmaker, a shoemaker, a printer, and a blacksmith. These exhibits illustrate the working lives of several local 19th century tradespeople whose surnames are still familiar in Madison and the local area today.

The James Library Building

A visit to the museum also lets you explore our home, the century-old James Library Building. Built in 1899, this fine example of Richardsonian Romanesque Revival architecture provides a beautiful backdrop for our exhibitions and programs, and is listed on the state and national registry of historic places.

Highlights from Our Collection

Explore the History Behind the Tools

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