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!).

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