The Winterthur Program: A Semester in Review

It is hard to believe that it is 2018, and that I am already half-way through my first year at Winterthur! As the new year begins, I want to take a little time to reflect on all of the new opportunities the Winterthur Program has provided me with since classes began over the summer. Summer Institute began with all of the new fellows being introduced to Winterthur, the University of Delaware, and the state of Delaware itself. We learned about all of the incredible resources that are literally only a few clicks on a computer, a visit to the library, or short drive away.

One of our first assignments was made by possible through Delaware Historical Society. The first-year fellows chose primary source material form the DHS’ collections, researched it endlessly, and then had their research turned into a digital humanities online exhibit called DelaWARES. Personally, I worked on an 18th century account book written by Delaware cabinetmaker, John Williams, exploring his role of not just as a cabinetmaker, but as a coffin-maker.

Image: Cover of John Williams Account Book: 1700-1758. Photo by author, courtesy Delaware Historical Society

Starting during Summer Institute, but carrying over into the Fall semester course, Material Life in America, first-year fellows got the opportunity to work with objects from Winterthur’s collection. I worked on a yellow-glazed refined earthenware bust of John Milton, and discussed why Milton would be important in both the colonies turned United States of America, and England during the 18th and early 19th century, and why Milton would be depicted on both sides of the Atlantic, in not just bust form, but in other forms of material culture as well, such as prints and furniture.

Image: Yellow-glazed refined earthenware bust of John Milton, Object No. 2017.0012.0010. Image Courtesy Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.

Additionally, this same course offered the first-year fellows the chance to cultivate skills in museum exhibition planning. Working in conjunction with a University of Delaware course on the material culture of enslaved life, students learned how to work together, select and propose objects to be in the exhibition, and write exhibit text and label copy.


Our first-year connoisseurship courses focused on furniture and prints & paintings. Students explored various objects in the Winterthur collection ranging from a gothic revival settee to a Canterbury rack in furniture block. In prints & paintings, students chose to work on prints that explored different techniques and subjects, ranging from religious imagery to depictions of Native Americans and their material culture, and even the depiction of a female murderer.

Image: The print Tentation de St. Antoine’ by Francois Dequevauvillar (engraver) after Salvator Rosa (painter). The engraving on wove paper depicts a fallen man who holds a cross up to the menacing, supernatural creatures above him. Image courtesy Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library


Now, all of the first-year fellows, myself included, are on break, giving Yuletide tours at the museum, busy reading upcoming course material, or getting ready for the next adventure the Winterthur Program has in store for us: our British Design History course and a trip to England! Our first trip and course of 2018 is definitely going to be a fun one! I can’t wait for all of the new adventures that await me in the new year at Winterthur!


By: Alexandra Rosenberg, WPAMC Class of 2019


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