Grant enables Winterthur to hire

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library has received a $215,800 federal grant to help quantify needs for accessible storage, which in turn will help restore the integrity of installations created by founder Henry Francis du Pont and improve interpretation for the public. The grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services allows the museum to hire two full-time curatorial assistants for two years.

“All of us at Winterthur are delighted and grateful that IMLS has funded this project,” said Dr. David Roselle, Director of Winterthur. “We will now begin to classify items in our collections as being suitable for exhibit and/or for teaching purposes. We will thus determine our needs for accessible storage.”

Linda Eaton, Winterthur's John L. & Marjorie P. McGraw director of collections & senior curator of textiles (far right), leads a review of textiles in the Winterthur Collection.

This project will strengthen Winterthur’s intellectual understanding of its 90,000 objects and their history, and it will improve records on authenticity, historical context and provenance.

Winterthur recently embarked on a 10-year plan to improve collection storage and accessibility, which it calls its highest priority. The first year of the funded project will focus on establishing a prioritized list of objects in all 175 rooms as well as in storage that require further research; the second will concentrate on carrying out this research and delivering a report with a prioritized list of objects that would be moved to a new accessible storage facility or for possible deaccession.

Since 2001, Winterthur has reconsidered its interpretation to reflect its 20th-century history as the du Pont family home, a rare survival of an American country place whose history and function is documented in Winterthur’s extensive archives. Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur’s founder, considered his room installations to be his works of art, and they had great influence in the professionalization of interior design. In addition, du Pont was an important figure in the early historic preservation movement, including the Kennedy restoration of the White House, setting new standards for the scholarship of historic house interiors.

Du Pont did not intend the collection to remain static. Winterthur continues to acquire objects to enhance its teaching, research, and public program activities. With limited accessible storage, over time many rooms have become overcrowded and have lost a portion of their interpretive focus, and existing storage areas have become overcrowded as well. Winterthur also occasionally deaccessions objects of poor quality or condition or types that are already well-represented in order to strengthen its collecting and interpretive vision in line with professional codes of ethics.

“We value this opportunity to assess the collection as a first step in our comprehensive project to make the museum collection both accessible and relevant to visitors and scholars into the future,” said Linda Eaton, Winterthur's John L. & Marjorie P. McGraw Director of Collections & Senior Curator of Textiles.

Ultimately, the project will boost Winterthur’s robust educational activities by increasing access to collections by graduate students, visiting research fellows, museum colleagues, independent scholars, participants in Winterthur’s continuing education and adult programming, and the general public.


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