The Winterthur Program provides interdisciplinary study of diverse ideas, contexts, and theories—supported by truly unparalleled hands-on study of objects, landscapes, buildings, decorative arts, and design, both within and outside the vast collections of the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library—so that all of our students may master the skills necessary to expand and confound predominant scholarship in material culture.
WINTERTHUR FELLOWS EXPERIENCE
in both coursework
and field study
in all public humanities.
Students have access to renowned
public & private collections,
university and special collection libraries,
scientific laboratories, and multimedia design studios.
with distinguished museum
and university thought leaders.
Students contribute to
in public humanities
and material culture study.
Students are exceptionally well-prepared
for careers in academic teaching,
art and antiques markets, consulting,
historic sites, museums, and preservation.
FROM THE DIRECTOR
Welcome to the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture.
Focused on the material world of America in historical and global contexts, the Winterthur Program addresses the complicated lives of objects, the way in which objects fostered human relationships, and how objects ranging from the seventeenth century to the modern era enable us to understand the past in all of its diversity, including the American material world created by black, indigenous, or people of color.
Students come from across the country and also from abroad, with diverse backgrounds reflected by a broad range of undergraduate majors. Our faculty are leaders and scholars in the various fields of curating and museum studies, art history, history, literary studies, anthropology, and archaeology. At both Winterthur and the University, field study and visiting researchers and professionals connect our students with faculty and colleagues around the world.
The Program’s founding values in 1952—disciplined looking, analytical reasoning, careful recording, and even scientific testing—continue to shape the Program today. All Winterthur Program students have the rare privilege of handling objects in the Museum collection, encouraging our students to personally engage with a wide range of materials from many different time periods and regions.
Students select the Winterthur Program for its small size, cohort model, unparalleled level of mentoring, experiential learning, and its commitment to fully funding all students—all which have prepared our students for exceptional careers, for more than 60 years.
Martin Brückner Director, Winterthur Program in American Material Culture
Mid-June, second-year Fellows spend a week experiencing southern decorative arts, material culture, & ethnic communities.
South Union Shaker Village
In August, second-year Fellows spend a week experiencing four centuries of social, cultural, environmental, and political material culture.
Peabody Essex Museum
Unparallelled Hands-On Learning Beyond the Classroom
In January, first-year fellows spend two weeks in London & surrounding areas, experiencing British design influence on American decorative arts.
US URBAN CENTERS
In January, second-year fellows spend several days experiencing urban landscapes & material culture, with a focus on Americana, auction houses, & antiques.
BEING A FELLOW and LIVING IN NORTHERN DELAWARE
of enrolled M.A. students receive full funding—a generous annual fellowship grant (for living expenses) and full tuition scholarship—for their entire 22-month course of study.
of graduates were employed or pursuing a PhD within 4 months of graduation in 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016.
25 – 50%
of Fellows also earn professional museum experience and a graduate certificate in museum studies or historic preservation, in addition to their M.A.
or more of current Fellows typically live within a 15-minute commute of renowned museums and cultural sites including Longwood Gardens, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Hagley Museum & Library, Mt. Cuba Center; Nemours Estate; Read House & Gardens, and of course Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. The balance choose to live within a 15-minute commute of all major Philadelphia museums, archives, libraries, cultural sites, urban parks & gardens.
COST OF LIVING COMPARISON
THE FELLOWS’ BLOG — MATERIAL MATTERS
Material Matters is a hub of innovative material culture research—the study of objects and what they reveal about individuals and societies. Material Matters is independently managed and written by the Fellows.
Looking at an advertisement for Community Plate flatware, you might recognize the pattern. Maybe it was the set of nice silverware your grandma brought out during the holidays, or perhaps you’ve seen it in antiques store. Either way, the silver plate flatware produced by the Oneida Company Ltd. dominated the market for middle-class silver throughout the twentieth century.
In advertisements, the company accented their flatware designs with images of visually harmonious clothing and other objects. This strategy was known as ensemble selling. Oneida took ensemble selling and the promise of elegance and class to a new level with their “Community Inspires” campaign.
I had just left my job in the print room at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison and was missing being around the prints every day. I realized that I wanted to know more about the history of printmaking, print culture, and how prints are made.
I remembered a strange little print tucked away in a remote room on the 8th floor of Winterthur. The print had caught my eye because of its strange colors and other materials on top of the ink. I also wanted to learn more about the imagery of the print. I had seen other prints online that depicted the stages of life but none in the collection I had been working in. I saw this as an opportunity to fill in some of the gaps I had in my education of print history.
The shoemaker shop sign located in the Winterthur Museum’s Shop Lane is a great example of a late 18th- to early 19th-century trade sign which was easy to read from the street, used the traditional trope of the boot to signify shoemaker, and, according to paint analysis, was painted in various colors throughout its lifetime.
While literacy rates in the 17th century are very hard to determine, it’s safe to say that school-age children and some adults, including people of marginalized groups, were not able to fully read or write. Literacy, however, cannot explain why simple signs with simple images were used for taverns, inns, and shops well into the 19th century when literacy rates must have been much higher than 200 years before.
Fellows experience collections, culture, and careers beyond the Museum through extensive field-based learning—within courses and as stand-alone events during summer and winter breaks. Stand-alone events include travel within the Northern US, the Southern US, and US Urban Centers, most often New York City. Course-related field study includes occasional day and overnight study for Connoisseurship and other Winterthur Program elective and cores courses. A core course in British Design History complements one-week of classroom study with two-weeks of field study in the United Kingdom. Occasionally, day or overnight enrichment trips are scheduled as opportunities arise. All travel-related costs, other than occasional meals, are provided by the Program.