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Field-Based Learning


Field-based learning is an important part of the Fellows’ academic training. They take day trips to artisans’ shops, auction houses, collectors’ homes, dealers, manufacturers, historic properties, and museums. These places include themes from the 17th to the 21st centuries. Over the course of their two years of study in the Program, Fellows participate in approximately 100 organized visits to different institutions, historic sites, businesses, or private homes.

After many years of trips to London, England, the Southern United States, New York City, and New England (US), the Winterthur Program has made strong contacts that Fellows benefit from during, and after the program. Fellows are introduced to cutting edge cultural institutions where they have the opportunity to speak with professionals, some of whom are Winterthur graduates. From auction house directors, to museum directors, to curators, to conservators, to government employees, Winterthur Fellows experience unparalleled access to leaders in the cultural sector.

Finally, for some trips, Fellows have the opportunity to assist in choosing sites based on their own interests and aspirations.


The Fellows gather together in preparation for one of many walking tours around the city of London. Here, the Fellows are about to embark on a tour to explore the built environment of Spitalfields. 


The first extended field experience occurs in January of the first year during the three-credit course on English Design History. It includes a two-week trip to London and surrounding areas in Britain. In the past, Fellows have taken walking tours around East London, London’s churches, and The City, and have visited such sites as the Museum of London, the Wedgewood Museum, Staffordshire potteries, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Dennis Sever’s House, the Geffrey Museum, Buckingham Palace, the Goldsmith’s Company, the Holburne Museum (Bath), Greenwich, and many, many more.


As Fellows begin their second year, they have a week-long field trip in mid-June to the South, visiting locations such as Charleston, South Carolina, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Charlottesville, Virginia. In these areas, Fellows have visited sites such as the Avery Normal Institute, the Levine Museum of the New South, Colonial Williamsburg, the Aiken-Rhett House, the Nathaniel Russell House, and Sumpter Priddy’s consulting business. This trip is invaluable for Fellows to learn more about African American material cultures and Southern Decorative Arts.


Prior to the start of the fall semester, Fellows travel to the New England region to visit places such as New Haven, Connecticut, Newport, Rhode Island, Plymouth, Boston, New Bedford, and Salem, Massachusetts. In many ways, this trip is used to better familiarize Fellows with modern and contemporary design. On past trips, Fellows have visited sites such as the Peabody Essex Museum, the Gropius House, the Philip Johnston Glass House, the Rhode Island School of Design, and a plethora of house museums in Newport, Rhode Island. On this trip, Fellows have also taken part in workshops on ‘difficult objects’ (objects with contested or particularly negative/dark histories), and how best to approach them.


Second-year Fellows spend several days in New York City in January. They visit museums, meet staff associated with major auction houses, and attend many of the events associated with Americana Week. In the past, Fellows have met with staff and attended auctions at Sothebey’s and Christie’s, and have met with staff and visited the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 9/11 Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and many more. This trip is especially helpful for Fellows interested in pursuing a career in the auction business.


Optional trips have included visits to the White House, the State Department Diplomatic Reception Rooms, the Knoll factory, the Hudson Valley, Milwaukee, Mount Vernon, and Pittsburgh. These trips vary according to exhibition schedules, timing, and budget.


Fellows also take advantage of field-based learning in their seminars including those offered through the Winterthur Program and those taught by other academic Departments.


Finally, there is a modest amount of funding for Fellows to travel for research and/or professional development, such as attending a symposium or traveling to give a talk. Please see the Fellowship & Funding Opportunities page for more information.

*For students’ responses to some of these field experiences, see the trip blogs on the Material Matters website.