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Connoisseurship courses develop material literacy. Coursework begins with Introduction to American Decorative Arts (Summer Institute) during July of the first year. This course makes intensive use of the Winterthur Museum’s library and object collections, orients Fellows to the Museum, and provides a firm foundation for the coursework that follows. It covers the history of style and introduces different ways of thinking about, and looking at, objects.

Connoisseurship I is a required course in the fall semester of the first year. It gives Fellows hands-on experience working with objects in differing media such as furniture, books, leather, horn, silver, paintings and prints. Faculty from the Office of Academic Programs, Curatorial and Conservation Department faculty, Library staff members, and visiting experts teach this course in a series of blocks, organized by media. The class also has access to outstanding specialists in traditional crafts and includes field trips to historic sites, collections, and artisan’s shops. Blocks may include sketching projects, tests, research papers, or research projects. This depends upon the instructor and the amount of time for the block.

Connoisseurship II continues the comprehensive study of objects in the spring semester of the first year. It includes blocks on objects such as ceramics, glass, metals, textiles, and clothing. This course is taught by the Curators and visiting experts, and includes field trips.

Connoisseurship III also takes place in the spring semester of the first year. It completes the intensive survey of decorative arts media by examining classes of objects not touched upon previously. This course is taught by the Curators, and includes field trips.

To see some of the research that Fellows have produced in connoisseurship classes, and to see how the Fellows are using technologies to share this research, click here.

Please note that the sequence of Connoisseurship blocks is subject to change as the Museum’s curatorial or staff responsibilities shift to meet exhibition schedules or research projects.


Winterthur Fellows learning about the process of sand casting from acclaimed silversmith Ubaldo Vitali and his experienced assistants. Every year, Fellows visit Vitali’s studio as a part of their metals connoisseurship block. 

Winterthur Program in American Material Culture
University of Delaware   •   Newark, DE 19716   •   USA
Phone: (302) 831-2678

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