Adventures in the Museum: Other Projects and Duties

Most of my blog posts up until this point have been about specific large projects, and my days with Registration and Public Programs. However, I spent 3 days every week working in the curatorial department and my duties there were extremely varied. Working on the doll project fell under the umbrella of my curatorial duties, as did formatting images for Winterthur’s NEA grant to digitize paper items in the collection. However, many other projects (some long, some taking just half an hour) also occupied my time.

For instance, I researched and compiled fact sheets about two of the rooms in the house in preparation for a room committee meeting. The Chinese Parlor and Marlboro Room are both on the regular tour (and have been since the museum opened). This means that there was lots of information to sort through. Writing these summaries was an excellent exercise in editing and deciding which facts were most pertinent to the committee’s current agenda. Another important function that these write-ups served was to document recent additions or changes to the room. Ultimately, because both the Chinese Parlor and the Marlboro Room were “Frozen Rooms,” their contents had not changed much.

The Chinese Parlor is papered with beautiful, hand-painted Chinese wallpaper dating from the 18th century.
The Chinese Parlor is papered with beautiful, hand-painted Chinese wallpaper dating from the 18th century.
Marlboro Room, view 1
Marlboro Room, view 2
Marlboro Room, view 2
The Marlboro Room, view 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, looking through old inventories from the 1960s and comparing them to the current catalogue records for the rooms did reveal a few shifts in the layout, and I got the chance to learn more about the history of the mansion while I searched! I particularly enjoyed reading parts of HF’s daughter’s memoirs, in which she reminisced about the parties her family used to hold in the house. Winterthur still hosts lots of weddings on the weekends, and wandering the grounds in the evenings and seeing wedding guests always made me think about what it would have been like to arrive at Winterthur as a guest back when the estate was a private residence.

Additionally, I always looked forward to seeing the graduate fellow approach my desk- that usually meant field trip time! I helped them put objects away in the store room, search for items to show visiting scholars, and push trolleys. It turned out that trolley driving is quite the art, especially when working through a maze of doors and delicate items. I even accompanied one of the graduate fellows as she installed a bodice for display inside the house. Tragically, there are not a lot of intact colonial-era dresses in the collection because HF bought dresses to use the skirts as upholstery (this was not unusual at the time). What this means is that they have a sofa, and then they have the bodice that goes with it…

 

Reuniting the bodice and skirt...
Reuniting the bodice and skirt…