Week 3: Green Earth Centre and Sustainability

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Beginning at the Getty Center: Woody Internship

Greetings from sunny Southern California, I’m Clara Poteet, and it’s actually been quite misty and grey today in Los Angeles! Despite the current weather, I am thrilled to be interning this summer in the events department at the Getty Center. First, a little about me, and then a little about the Getty:
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Fun at Winterthur, Week 2!

After an exciting weekend of exploring the area around me, I was ready to get back to work. Unfortunately, Monday morning was the biggest downpour I’d seen since I arrived. I got to work (a little wet), and started back on my deaccessioning work. I switched from spatterware to pink lusterware. I also got officially trained to use the museum’s online program, K EMu. It keeps catalogue records (among many other things), which was very helpful for my deaccessioning work. I learned how to find exactly what I needed from the digitized files. My day was not terribly exciting, but I felt like I got a lot of work done and I finally feel like I’m settling into a rhythm. I hardly had to use the GPS at all to get to work this morning, and I am already driving from work to the gym and from the gym to my AirBnB without it (woo!). I had an exciting Tuesday working with education and outreach. I spent the morning researching the architecture of gingerbread houses (and the American gothic revival style in general) as well as the history of gingerbread houses for a “Crafternoon” program Winterthur will be doing later this year. I also took a tour of the grounds and learned where there might be dinosaur and plant fossils and helped the two UD undergrad interns with their craft experiments. I took them through the collections on a hunt for interesting (and non-imperialist) fireplace tile for one of their activities as well. After working in the files for a while, it was nice to have a break! On Wednesday, it was back to my usual work. I finished up the pink lusterware spreadsheet after tapping into the motherlode of information on about 130 objects that were donated as part of a single collection. The donor had kept a whole bunch of newspaper clippings related to lusterware, all of his correspondence with museums and dealers, all of his correspondence with Winterthur, all of the purchase documentation for when he bought the objects, and all of the appraisal information. Normally, the files have too little information. This time, they had way too much of it! It took me all day to sort through the files for this collection, but I collected a ton of useful information on provenance that should help with the deaccessioning process. It was fun to really dig into the files and find some great information. On Thursday, I was given a new project! I am working on assembling information for and writing up a memorandum for a possible museum purchase. The museum is possibly interested in acquiring two fraktur, which are pieces of Pennsylvania German print artwork. They record important events in a person’s life, like a birth or baptism, in a really beautiful way. So, I spent Thursday immersing myself in all things fraktur in order to find enough information to write the memorandum that would go along with the purchase proposal. Winterthur has a huge collection of fraktur (even a whole Fraktur Hall), but I was surprised to learn that there was a prominent collection back in Williamsburg too! Apparently Abby Aldrich Rockefeller enjoyed collecting them, so the Folk Art Museum in CW has several. On Friday, I spent the morning continuing my fraktur research. I compiled the information I had collected yesterday as well as some I found this morning into an essay detailing the history of fraktur, the history of the artist of these particular fraktur, the history of the family for whom they were made, and most importantly, why would we wantthem. The justification is the most important part since it explains what the potential acquisitions can do for us and our collections. I also hunted through the object files for some of our existing fraktur to find some information on similar pieces in our collection to help with the justification. After working on that all morning, I enjoyed a nice lunch outside in one of the many gardens on the estate with two of the other women who work in the curatorial office. After lunch, I went back to work on the deaccessioning project, where I worked on a set of textiles and a bequest of some porcelain. There was more information in the files than I expected, so it was an interesting little scavenger hunt. The sixth floor was quiet on Friday, since all the curators were either presenting at or attending the conference with the White House over in another building. That meant I got a lot of work done, but I do miss hearing everyone in the offices talking about their various projects and checking in on each other. It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of week two! I have an exciting weekend planned. I have a row scheduled for Saturday morning and I’m looking forward to checking out the area more on Saturday afternoon. Nemours and Hagley, two more DuPont estates are nearby, and they’re free with my ID! Woo! I want to see all four DuPont estates before I leave the area. I saw Longwood Gardens last weekend, I work at Winterthur of course, and if I can check off Hagley and Nemours this weekend, that makes four. Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll report back next week! Things will be busy because of Antiques Roadshow, but thankfully I’m nonessential and won’t have to deal with our 4,000 visitors and their two items (apiece!).

Hello from Winterthur, Week 1!

Hello from Winterthur! My name is Grace, and I am a rising junior at W&M. I’m a History major, and I’m also minoring in English and Classics. This summer, I will be spending 10 weeks as a curatorial intern at the Winterthur Museum in Winterthur, DE. It could also be placed in Wilmington, DE, but as I learned on my first day, Winterthur is big enough to have its own zip code (and post office and fire department)! I have never worked in museums before, and to be honest, my first thought as I finished my first day was “I should have started smaller”. The house and the museum are unfathomably huge! If you’re like me and had not heard of Winterthur before now (or in my case before I applied for the position), Winterthur is a house formerly owned by the DuPont family of Delaware. The DuPonts originally came from Nemours, France, but emigrated to America during the French Revolution. They made their money in gunpowder originally and got rich by producing gunpowder for the US Army during the Civil War as well as for various wars and expeditions of westward expansion. After the need for gunpowder really dried up in the early 20th century, they closed their mill at Hagley/Elutherian Mills and opened up a scientific industrial research division, where they invented things like nylon and Kevlar and Teflon(just little things!). In this part of Delaware there are four separate DuPont estates, so the family (and their money) are everywhere here. The Winterthur museum was established by Henry Francis (HF since there are a lot of Henry DuPonts) DuPont, who expanded the house and turned it into the museum it is today. He created the rooms to be show off regionalism in furnishings and design as well as differences across time periods. The house museum is not set up like any other house museums you’ve probably been to; each room serves an exhibitionary, rather than formerly functional, purpose. Also, how many house museums have a courtyard with the facades from four different tavern buildings inside of them? My first week has been a little overwhelming, but I am feeling more confident and more exciting as the days go by. My first day began with a whirlwind tour of the 150 room mansion and some of the curatorial storage space. I was introduced to many people in the museum wing, including all the curators and everyone in registration. I even got my light wand, allowing me to turn on and off the lights in the house! I thought that was a lot, but on my second day, I got a tour of the research building. Winterthur is one of the few museums big enough to have full labs staffed with scientists, so it was fascinating to see the intersection of art, humanities, and science in the conservation spaces. We visited textiles, books, paper, wood, art and paintings, and other labs. I was lucky that a tour full of important people was about to go through the building after me, so all of the specialists were already set up to explain their job and to show off their cool stuff. On my second day, I was even cleared to handle objects in the collection. I watched videos and took a mini-quiz to prepare, but in order to show that I knew what I was doing, I got to move a teapot across Mrs. DuPont’s bedroom. Sounds dull, until you realize that to pick up the teapot, you must know how to interact with the rug you’re standing on, the couches (with textiles and wood) on either side, the table the teapot came from and the table it’s going to, and every other part of the room around you. The coolest part about Winterthur is that everything is an object- not many things are in a case. Everything in every room around you has value and conservation necessities. Side note- I also got to move a Benjamin Franklin porcelain statue in the Port Royal dining room, which looked nothing like the Franklins on either side of him. Miniatures of famous eighteenth century figures like Franklin are fun because not all artists knew what they looked like, so sometimes you’ll see mistakes- like a statue of Franklin labeled “G. Washington” (C150 friends, you know what I’m talking about!). On my third day, I attended a curators meeting, where I got to listen in on all the ongoing projects and thoughts that the other curators had. I also learned about one of my main projects this summer, which is working on the IMLS grant project. I learned how to use accessioning records, object files, and other master cards to piece together how the object arrived at the museum, who gave it to us, and what its importance is. This work is used to determine whether the object can be deaccessioned, or removed from the collection. Winterthur has so much stuff, so deaccessioning is very important. I am currently working on spatterware (porcelain), which was a pet project of HF Dupont’s (meaning he has *a lot* of it). I also had a meeting with the education and outreach department who I will be working with on the Terrific Tuesdays programs for families this summer. Wednesday was also the first day I could get into the building and up to my office with my very own badge, which was a fun milestone. On my fourth day, I spent the morning learning about object research. I learned that members of the public can request information about objects in Winterthur’s collection that they might not be able to access on their own from the outside. It is the job of curators and other staff members to help them with their inquiries by doing a little research about the history of the object, related objects, and the object’s provenance. We also included a little extra bibliographic information about the object in general, since it was mentioned in a few books in the Winterthur library. In the afternoon, I was able to see a great concert by two professors/opera singers featuring an interesting variety of 18th and 19th century music from Winterthur’s collection. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the library, where I learned about Winterthur’s ephemera collection and its archives. I am a huge fan of libraries in general, so I hope that and I’m sure that I will be spending a lot more time down there. As my week came to a close, I had my first non-scheduled day. Every other day so far had been scheduled with a lot of trainings and events, but on Friday, my calendar was open. I spent the first part of the morning exploring the house. I went in all by myself (no guide and no map woo!) and set about trying to find specific objects I picked out in the catalogue. I made sure to go early, before the museum was technically open so that I could avoid the obstacle of tours. Just to share some pictures:

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