Fun at Winterthur, Week 9!

I’m back after a bit of a weird and wild weekend! I left work a little bit early on Friday to drive down to D.C. Apple Maps said it would take me 2.5 hours to get down. That might have been true if I counted arriving at the D.C line as arriving at my destination. Once I got there though, I inched through traffic for a full hour and a half before finding a spot to park and running into the game. It was a lot of fun, no thanks to the actual baseball involved! I woke up on Saturday and decided to go to Mount Vernon since I hadn’t been in a while. Alas, I had forgotten that it was summer tour season, meaning that each guest got about a half second in each room before being shoved onward by the crowds as the guides in the middle of the room shouted obvious facts about Washington. Not gonna lie, the house was a bit underwhelming since I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know and I was smashed in there with several hundred total strangers. However, the new exhibit on slavery at Mount Vernon was fantastic. It was really well executed and had great information. Unfortunately, that was the least crowded place I encountered on the estate. After Mount Vernon, I headed on down the road to Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason. I think Mason is super cool, and I read a lot of his correspondence and personal reflections on the Constitutional Convention for some of my past research. His house was the last of the big Virginians’ homes that I had yet to visit, and it was fantastic. I really liked his overall style- ostentatious, but tastefully so. The only downside of the tour was that it was populated mostly by Northern tourists (shoutout to those who have heard my earlier rant on Northern tourists). One guy liked to talk over the guide and use terminology that sounds fancy to those who don’t know anything (like himself, arguably) but are just basic descriptive words to people who actually know anything about decorative arts. After Gunston Hall, I made possibly the worst decision of the weekend- taking I-95 up to D.C from essentially Woodbridge on a Saturday night (also Nats game night). Unfortunately, my phone had died, and I didn’t want to get lost. I know Northern Virginia reasonably well, but not well enough to get back on the backroads that would get me around 95 without a GPS. I sat on 95 for 2 whole hours to get essentially 30 miles. Once I got back into the city, I got to have dinner with my Dad and brother. The next morning, we got breakfast before they left. I accidentally went to Arlington Cemetery because I got into the wrong lane, but once I realized where I was going, I was down. I decided to go to the Confederate Monument in Arlington, because I had read a lot of scholarship on it. It was nearly 2 miles (walking, since the trams didn’t go there) from the gate, but the monument was worth the walk since it was so fascinating. I decided to go to check out the Papal Tiara at the National Shrine, and walked in on a Mass, so I decided to stay for the service. After Mass, I headed out, back to Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, it took me almost 4 hours to get back, 2 and a half of which were spent inching from Annapolis across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

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Fun at Winterthur, Week 8!

Well, my weekend was a colossal failure! I was supposed to work all day Saturday at a regatta in Middletown, DE, but that was called off because of the heat. Instead, I decided to go to Lancaster PA to see the farmers’ market and the historic area. I went on an hour-long scenic drive through the southern Pennsylvania countryside. When I got to Lancaster, I discovered to my disappointment that the farmers’ market was closed! As was the Lancaster historical association! Fortunately, the James Buchanan national historic site was open, so I took a tour. It was a bit odd, but it was good to check another presidential site off my list. I drove home far earlier than I expected to. On Sunday, I tried to go to Dover, DE. I got there only to find that Dover was a) tiny, b) deserted, and c) mostly closed because of the heat and because it was Sunday.

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Fun at Winterthur, Week 7!

Hello everyone, I’m back for week 7! I had a super busy weekend with my friend in town. We saw the fountain show at Longwood, took a tour right here at Winterthur, visited Nemours, walked along the Wilmington waterfront, had some UDairy ice cream, and spent all day Sunday in Philadelphia. It was so much fun to get to see her and to hang out for the weekend! As much as I love my time at Winterthur, this past weekend made me look forward to getting back to school with my friends. I started off my Monday morning in the textile study as usual. I don’t technically have moving privileges, but I’ve been trained on how to move objects and I do it sometimes when needed and supervised by curators. So, I got to move some textiles from the accessions room in the office wing of the museum to the textile lab in the research building which was cool (but also not as cool as it sounds: they were wrapped in tissue paper in a box that I held carefully). We worked in the textile conservation lab this morning since that was where our missing box from last week was found, so it was a nice change of pace. We marked a lot of objects for deaccession, so it felt productive! At lunch, some of the curators and I went to see a talk about decisions and ethics in furniture conservation (i.e. what do you replace? what should be recreated and what should be left as-is? how do you decide original intent?). It was really interesting, and the woman who gave the talk had worked at both the VMFA and Colonial Williamsburg. She featured a sofa from the VMFA in her talk, so I’ll have to check it out the next time I’m in Richmond. After the talk, I went back to work trying to date some of the textiles and ceramics we’re deaccessioning. I went through files in registration and books in the library trying to piece it together, which was fun (I love research!). I was feeling a little tired so I stopped by the basement for a coffee from our new coffee vending machine (!!!) to wake myself up for the end of the day.

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Fun at Winterthur, Week 6!

Hello again, I’m back for week 6! I had a fun weekend. I did absolutely nothing on Saturday which was nice, but on Sunday I went with one of the assistant curators, Leigh, to the Gettysburg battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We met up early Sunday morning to drive two hours over (not long but I kept making wrong turns!). After passing some unintentionally amusing roadside attractions in rural Maryland and rural Pennsylvania, we arrived at the battlefield. We wandered the museum, saw the famous cyclorama, watched the Morgan Freeman-narrated film, and visited the gift shop before deciding to drive around the battlefield a bit. I wanted to see the Virginia Memorial because of my interest in Confederate monuments and memorials. I was a bit underwhelmed. While the memorial itself was large and ornate (erected 1917!!), there was no inscription. For me, the fascinating part is the intersection of the physical motifs and the motifs embedded within the inscription. South Carolina’s proved to be more exciting. Erected in 1963, it had a suitably flowery inscription. Leigh, from New York/Massachusetts, looked at it and declared, “that’s a very nice way of saying ‘we lost’”. Fair enough! We visited Little Roundtop, Big Roundtop, and other major battlefield landmarks before calling it a day and driving back towards a sight we’d seen earlier in the day, the Hampton National Historic Site.

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Hello from Winterthur, Week 5!

Hello everyone! I’m back again after an exciting weekend. On Saturday, I went with Onie, who is the editor for Winterthur’s publications and an excellent rower, up to Philadelphia to see the Independence Day Regatta. Her husband is the director of the regatta and has been for a number of years, so he took me up into the finish tower so that I could see how regatta timing works and how the officials calculate the race finishes. It was super interesting- they use stop motion video to capture the precise finishes down to the hundredth of a second! After that, we checked out the ice cream festival down in Reading Terminal Market, which was a lot of fun. On Sunday, I drove up to New Brunswick, New Jersey, to watch my brother play lacrosse at Rutgers. My parents were there too, so it was great to see them. This all seems like a ton of driving (four different states on Sunday alone!), but as I’ve learned, everything up here is super compressed so I could drive almost the whole length of New Jersey in under an hour and a half. Given that the drive time from Charleston to Columbia, South Carolina is just under two hours (and it’s not even truly halfway across the state from East to West!), it’s wild to me how far you can get in the northeast.

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