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Informal Learning Opportunities



Winterthur regularly organizes decorative arts symposia and conferences. The Sewell C. Biggs Furniture Forum, for example, is an annual event, and is joined by regular ceramics and textile conferences and thematic symposia. These interdisciplinary events shed light on new topics in the decorative arts and material culture, and bring in new and established leaders in these fields.

Winterthur Fellows are encouraged to participate in these conferences in many different ways. Fellows may be invited to present on their research, assist with the many events associated with the conference, and provide specialized tours of the Winterthur collections for conference presenters and visitors. For more information on upcoming Winterthur conferences, click here.

With every new Winterthur exhibit, the Museum also organizes countless talks and workshops in the form of lecture series. These lectures aim to give the public accessible, specialized knowledge about the topic being explored in the exhibit, and also to present different perspectives with which to view the exhibit’s objects and narratives. In many cases, lectures will give context to objects and ideas in a given exhibit, often exploring contemporary or international perspectives. For a schedule of upcoming lectures associated with Winterthur’s exhibits, click here.

Of course, the Winterthur Museum is also home to the Emerging Scholars Symposium – a student run symposium on a particular topic that brings together up-and-coming international material culture scholars. Winterthur Fellows have the option to play a role in organizing this symposium, to speak, and to attend. Events surrounding this symposium offer Fellows the chance to speak with presenters at length about their research. For more information on the Emerging Scholars Symposium, as well as other symposia sponsored by the Center for Material Culture Studies, click here.

The University of Delaware also offers a huge number of talks, symposia, and conferences. Many of these are hosted by different programs with affiliations to material culture studies. International scholars come in to speak about new topics in English, Black American Studies, Art History, Women and Gender Studies, Fashion and Apparel Studies, and many more.

Finally, the Winterthur University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (also jointly sponsored by the Winterthur Museum and Library and the University of Delaware) has monthly lectures that all Winterthur Fellows are encouraged to attend. Each lecture tackles a different topic in conservation studies, and many of these topics are pertinent to, and significant for, material culture studies. For a list of upcoming WUDPAC guest lectures, click here.


Throughout the duration of the Winterthur Program, Fellows have the chance to make connections with, and learn from, Visiting Scholars. Academic, independent, and museum scholars, as well as advanced graduate students, hail from around the world to study Winterthur’s object and library collections to further their research. Research Fellows stay for either short or long-term fellowships, and are often keen to meet the Winterthur Fellows, speak about their focus, and hear more about students’ backgrounds and research interests. With a regular influx of new Research Fellows, Winterthur Fellows will continually be immersed in a creative environment where they will regularly be shown the imagination with which Winterthur’s collections can be approached.


Winterthur faculty regularly organize Brown Bag lunches, short, lunch-time lectures in which visiting scholars, museum directors, curators, staff members, international visitors, recent grads, and others are invited to speak to staff and students about a topic. Brown Bag lunches aim to give students new skills, new perspectives, and new connections. In the past, topics have ranged from:

→ how to read a cultural institution’s finance statements

→ how to work with trustees

→ how to create an online portfolio

→ museum ethics

Brown Bag lunches consistently give students food for thought about the changing shape of the Material Culture and Decorative Arts field, and give them practical skills for their future endeavours within or outside of the cultural sphere.

As a general rule, Fellows find there are almost unlimited opportunities to explore the connections between ideas and things, people and places, passions and careers.