The Winterthur Program provides the most sustained study of material culture via museum objects of all programs at the University. Collectively, however, the University’s array of material culture programs and the faculty members that drive interdisciplinary teaching and research achieve a critical mass that is unique in the world: students in Art, Art Conservation, Art History, the Center for Historic Architecture and Design, Black American Studies, the Center for Disability Studies, Women and Gender Studies, English, History, Museum Studies, the Preservation Studies Program, and the Winterthur Program comprise a community of learners.
These units have flexible relationships and different missions but the Center for Material Culture Studies helps to coordinate these units. The Center sponsors the Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars, held at Winterthur every April, funds the Public Engagement Material Culture Institute (PEMCI) during the first two weeks of June, and funds Summer Research Fellowships for Graduate Students in Material Culture Studies. For additional information on the Center’s activities and affiliated faculty see http://materialculture.udel.edu/.
The University also has outstanding collections. The University of Delaware library contains more than 2.5 million volumes or serials, and maintains numerous digital databases. The Library also has an excellent rare book and special collections section with strengths in English, Irish and American literature; Delaware history and related materials; horticulture; decorative arts; the history of the book; and science and technology.
Lodged at the University but privately owned is the Mark Samuels Lasner collection. It focuses on the Pre-Raphaelites and on English writers and illustrators of the 1890s. Coupled with the Delaware Art Museum’s extraordinary Pre-Raphaelite collection of paintings, drawings and prints, these two collections present an unusual opportunity to study this era of British art and its influences in America [www.delart.org/collections/preraph]. Fellows make use of these materials during the course on English Design History, studying original William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, and Emery Walker designs before the UK field study trip.
The University Museums has fine collections of prints, drawings, paintings, photographs, antiquities, and Inuit art. A particular strength is the Paul R. Jones collection of African American Art with works by Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Henry Osawa Tanner, James VanDerZee, Carrie Mae Weems, and Hale Woodruff. The staff also superintends the University’s Mineralogical Museum.
Two collaborating units that recently moved into the College of Arts and Sciences brought important collections with them: Fashion and Apparel Studies superintends a collection of historic textiles and clothing, maintaining over 3000 items worn by men, women and children.
The Center for Historic Architecture and Design has documented more than 3,000 buildings in the region, three fourths of them now demolished; their archive with thousands of measured drawings, photographs, maps, and property files—most of it prepared by graduate students—is one of the Middle Atlantic Region’s most valuable archives for buildings and landscapes. Winterthur Fellows who are interested in historic architecture have made extensive use of the Center’s training in field methodology, CAD, GIS, architectural photography, and National Register nominations.
The Delaware Design Institute, established in 2009, works on applied design, issues of sustainability and forward-looking relationships between humans and design.
Finally, the University matches stipend funding from the Winterthur Museum to cover Fellows’ graduate tuition. The Graduate Office also provides a range of services including financial support for travel to conferences for graduate students giving papers and a Collections-Based Research Grant Program. At various times of the year, the Graduate Office also conducts valuable workshops related to research, writing, careers, safety, grant writing, and professional ethics.