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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doll photo shoot…

One of my favorite projects this summer involved Winterthur’s doll collection. With about 50 dolls in the collection, only half had photographs in the online catalog. I took photographs of the other half, and then I learned how to add metadata to the images and edit them in Photoshop. Now the cataloguer shots that I took are available to the public on Winterthur’s online catalogue, which was exciting to see.

The second part of this project involved distilling several papers written by Winterthur graduate students into descriptions for the catalogue. This job had the double benefit of updating the detail and accuracy of the catalogue entries and teaching me more about doll history.

Taking the photographs was also a wonderful way for me to familiarize myself with the dolls Winterthur owns and as well as doll-making history and styles. The reference books that I looked at from Winterthur’s library and the student papers that I read about certain dolls stayed far more firmly in my mind with the framework provided by actually handling these objects.

I find dolls to be a particularly compelling because they give a concrete connection to children from the past, and how they might have played. I think that my favorites were the “Grödner Tal” dolls, a type of wooden doll with painted features manufactured in Germany in the 19th century and exported for sale to other parts of Europe and North America. However, several of the larger dolls with cloth bodies also reminded me a lot of modern American Girl dolls- children’s preferences have not changed much over the centuries!

Doll, 1964.1362, Winterthur Museum                                                       My favorite Grödner Tal doll

One of my favorite parts of working at Winterthur was the fact that whenever we went into the storage rooms to get an object, it felt like a treasure hunt- I had no idea what I would find when I lifted a lid. However, I will admit that uncovering several of the dolls gave me a bit of a shock (they were slightly scary for children’s toys!).

1958.1137 Doll, view 1
Doll, 1958.1137, Europe (1775-1850), Winterthur Museum These arms are extremely lifelike, the head is… less so
2000.0074.001 A Doll, view 1
Doll, 2000.0074.001, Winterthur Museum                          While the arms are mildly terrifying, this doll really reminded me of an American Girl doll with its elaborate wardrobe (she has knitted stays, a chemise, a petticoat, and a dress).

(Note: While I took all the photographs included in this blog post, I sourced them from Winterthur’s online catalog, and the copyright belongs to the Winterthur Museum)

 

The Order of the Spoons

Curtains weren’t the only thing we moved this summer- I am now proud to say that I have been inducted to what we all jokingly dubbed the “Order of the Spoons.”

A bit of background information is possibly in order.

Winterthur possesses a large study collection of silver spoons (around 9,000 pieces), built up over the years into an extremely useful resource for scholars. However, the storage situation for many of these spoons was less than ideal. Hundreds, for instance, were jumbled together in small boxes (making it nearly impossible to find a single spoon quickly). New cabinets for the spoon collection were purchased and moved into metal storage, but then Vivien and Rachel (along with myself and any other graduate fellows or assistants that they could borrow for several hours at a time) had to move thousands of silver spoons into these new cabinets. First, we had to line all the drawers with ethafoam.

Spoons ready to be moved
Spoons ready to be moved

To make matters more complicated, most of the spoons had 3 numbers written on them: 2 that we ignored, and one accession number attached with a paper tag. Without 3 people, the process became extremely slow. With 3, however, our system went something like this…

Person 1:  Take spoons out of their tray or box, arrange on a table in accession-number order. Depending on how many spoons were in the box, this could take quite some time (particularly as I never seemed to be able to judge how much room I needed on the table and would sometimes be blindsided by a series of 6 or 7 spoons all in the same set).

Person 2: Arrange spoons in the new drawer, placing them in alternating directions and making sure that the spoon lay “comfortably.” All the while, they read out the accession numbers of the spoons they are placing.

Person 3: Records the new drawer location of the spoon in question on a huge online spreadsheet.

We periodically switched jobs, so that no one got too tired of one task. It was pretty amusing how excited we all got when there was an occasional silver item that wasn’t a spoon- we would all try to guess what some of the stranger ones were before looking them up in the catalogue. Some of our favorites included: a boatswain’s whistle, a salt sifter, and a commemorative Salem spoon with a witch riding a broomstick!

1998.0004.1740 whistle underside
Silver boatswain’s whistle, 1998.0004.1740, Winterthur Museum                                                                                           The temptation to blow this whistle was difficult to resist!
1998.0004.1242 Silver Sifter upper surface
Salt Sifter, 1998.0004.1242, Winterthur Museum
Souvenir spoon, 1998.0004.1448, Winterthur Museum                                                                                       This was my absolute favorite spoon! The broomstick handle is adorable, and apparently the spoon was made in the late 19th-century. I think it is fascinating that even in the 1890s people were buying souvenir spoons!

 

Curtain Storage: Phase 2

Phase 2 involved actually clearing out Curtain Storage II. The days that I worked on this part of the project, I joined a team composed of interns and staff members from registration and textile conservation. We needed as many hands as possible to fold up the curtains, because they were so large (and some were quite delicate).

First, textile conservation took down a tester curtain and took it back to their lab to figure out the best kinds of supports to make for the rest of the curtains, and approximate how many boxes we would need to make (and order) for the rest of the room. Before the folding could start, I helped make countless “snakes” from batting and stockinette, which we then inserted every time the fabric folded or pleated so that sharp creases would not form and lead to rips.

Curtain storage emptying out- you can see the copper frames here that used to hold curtains.
Curtain storage emptying out- you can see the copper frames here that used to hold curtains.

With multiple teams folding, making boxes, and stuffing snakes, the storage rooms were a whirlwind of paper and fabric. One of the most fun and challenging hangings that I helped pack had a curved arch of fabric with curtains hanging from each side, like a very fancy children’s puppet theater. Ultimately the hanging required 8 fabric snakes, one supporting each gather in the fabric!

The bed hanging in question: It looked like a puppet theater hanging up, and a little bit like a Disney prince's cloak folded up in the box! You can see all 8 snakes poking out from the folds at the edge of the fabric.
The bed hanging in question: It looked like a puppet theater hanging up, and a little bit like a Disney prince’s cloak folded up in the box! You can see all 8 snakes poking out from the folds at the edge of the fabric.

Curtain valences also lined the walls of Curtain Storage II, and needed removal. Almost all of them went into Curtain Storage I, where the walls now bristle with every style of curtain valence imaginable. Helping remove them from the walls and re-install them next door was slightly difficult, however, because Winterthur uses a lot of what seem to be old DIY snap tape. A piece of ribbon with snaps sewn into it at slightly irregular intervals kept many of the valences attached to the walls, and metal snaps had been sewn into many of the valences as well (this was many decades ago, and not very good for the fabric!). Unfortunately, this meant that when we tried to match up the snaps on the wall and the snaps on the valences, they didn’t always line up. Attempting to find an arrangement that put minimal stress on the valence while also keeping it on the wall was sometimes quite a challenge.

Finally, though, it was “curtains for curtains,” as one of the textile interns joked. It turns out that you start coming up with lots of bad curtain-related puns when that is all you have been thinking about for 8 hours. In all seriousness, though, it was a huge undertaking to empty Curtain Storage II, and I really enjoyed getting the chance to work with and learn from the textile conservators. While the curtain storage project continued after “phase 2,” the next part of the project involved contractors who came in to prepare the room for shelving and to actually install the shelving. I was not involved with either of these stages.

 

 

 

Curtain Storage: Phase 1

A 175-room mansion has a lot of windows, and those windows all need curtains. In fact, for many of the more public rooms, HF duPont commissioned multiple sets of curtains and matching slipcovers for different seasons. The practical implications of these stylistic choices?Winterthur owns a lot of curtains.

I became personally familiar with many of these curtains and valences this summer, during the day per week that I helped the registration department. Winterthur is currently embarking on a 10 year-long project aimed at greatly improving the quality and accessibility of their collections storage. One of the biggest projects this summer was to install new shelving in Curtain Storage II.

Some background information might be required to explain why this project was such a mammoth task. Winterthur has two adjacent storage rooms for curtains, both containing dozens of hanging curtains on specially-made copper racks. The curtains hang from the ceiling, and because of this the storage room is two-stories high. The rooms are both extremely impressive, stuffed to the brim with an eclectic assortment of fabrics. Because curtain storage is a popular place to take behind the scenes tours, the plan was to keep the outermost room (Curtain Storage I)  in its original configuration. However, hanging places stress on the curtain fabric, and every time someone visits the rooms (which is frequently), the curtains are all exposed to light. To solve this problem, the curtains in Curtain Storage II were taken down and carefully packed in textile storage boxes to be placed on new shelving.

Curtain Storage I
Curtain Storage I

Phase 1. The Hagley Move

In order to put in shelves, we needed a completely empty room. Workmen, electricians, power tools, and moving shelves are not conducive to a safe environment for delicate textiles! There was not enough room to put all the inventory of Curtain Storage I in any other part of the museum. Solving this problem, Winterthur moved some of its other textiles (mostly slipcovers and curtains not in heavy rotation) into temporary storage at Hagley, a nearby museum. The extra space could then hold curtains while the shelving went in.

First, an inventory had to be taken of the items being sent. I arrived just as registration was finishing up the inventory process, but I did help Devon (one of the registration assistants) with a little bit of inventorying, digging in folds of fabric to find well-hidden accession numbers and holding out swathes of fabric to be photographed.

After inventorying, the boxes had to be packed up for moving. I spent one full day helping pack up textile boxes in plastic bags that Jesse (the graduate student project manager) crimped with a terrifying melting tool that looked like an industrial hair-straightener. The finished product looked a lot like a cereal bag.

Another day, I wrapped most of the trolleys being moved to Hagley in plastic wrap. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that the plastic wrap almost defeated me- I was exhausted by the end of the morning! I accomplished my task in an extremely dignified manner: running backwards around the trolley as fast as possible, stopping halfway up to catch my breath and get rid of my dizziness!

Ta da! One Lydia-wrapped trolley...
Ta da! One Lydia-wrapped trolley…

After that, Jesse, one of the other storage interns (Vivien), and I slowly moved all 17 trolleys in batches of 2 down to the loading bay. With 2 elevators, 4 doors, countless hallways, and occasional tour groups to contend with, the route was truly an obstacle course! Because this project was so different from the reading and computer work that I typically performed both at Winterthur and at school, it was really valuable to realize all the processes that go into moving delicate items. I think that seeing all 17 trolleys collected and ready to be moved offsite also inspired a strong sense of accomplishment for everyone involved!

Project Runway: Paper Doll Edition (aka. Terrific Tuesdays, Part 2)

Mystery Objects: Texture Week

For Texture Week I ran a game, which was a nice change of pace. The game also allowed me to interact a bit more with the kids, which was especially rewarding because I finally started to recognize families who came every week (and they started to recognize me). First, we placed mystery objects in cloth bags. Then, the children felt inside, told me what textures described the item in the bag, and guessed what it was. Depending on the age of the children, some were more successful than others at not looking before they guessed…

Taken from the study collection (a group of objects catalogued separately from the main collection, that can be handled with less care) and the “Touch it” room in the museum, the items were mostly reproductions. For instance, one bag held a spool of flax and another held a piece of linen. I enjoyed explaining that flax felt like hair, but is actually a plant fiber (and that the linen fabric was made from flax – they felt the same substance twice, but in very different forms). For older children, we provided a large selection of cards with texture words on them, which they could match to each bag. However, one bag remained a mystery to every single person who felt inside (even the adults). Undaunted, and inspired by the challenge, some kids spent most of their time at the station attempting to guess what they held in their hands.

Some of the best guesses: A unicorn horn, a honey dipper, a screwdriver, a drumstick, and a magic wand!

Mystery Object
The most mysterious object!

Well, I wish we had a unicorn horn or a magic wand to display, but this is actually the far more mundane drop spindle, used to spin thread. Most of the children had no idea what a drop spindle was or how it worked. References to Sleeping Beauty became surprisingly helpful, even though she pricked her finger on  a spinning wheel’s spindle (not a drop spindle). One kid who had recently been in his school’s production of Sleeping Beauty even pretended to faint, in order to demonstrate what happened when her finger touched the spindle!

Blackboard Drawing: Value Week

Artist at work...
Artist at work…

Value Week’s activity required kids to experiment with how you can represent black and white with different techniques and materials. Rather than connecting to a specific piece of art in the Winterthur collection, this table provided children with the opportunity to practice thinking like an artist. Each child took a black and a white piece of card stock, and using white chalk and black graphite, they drew the same image on both papers but in contrasting colors. The adventurous could also practice covering their paper with a layer of pigment and then erasing away to reveal shapes. For inspiration, we provided a variety of printed examples of modern and historical black and white sketches.

Paper Doll Clothing Patterns: Pattern Week (upcoming)

Sadly I was not able to see the result of this activity planning, as Pattern Week has not yet happened and I have finished my internship. However, during my last week I developed part of this activity. The table will include a matching game for children to think about the relationship between clothing patterns and finished outfits. After kids finish the game, the plan is for them to make and decorate their own clothing for large cardboard paper dolls that Lois (the Associate Curator of Education, who runs Terrific Tuesdays) found online. I was excited by the challenge of coming up with doll clothing patterns, especially since I now had plenty of experience working with the Terrific Tuesdays kids and a much better idea of their crafting abilities than I did at the beginning of the summer.

Image result for 1930s kids dress
Design Source (found on Pinterest)
Girl's Outfit
Girl’s Outfit
Dress Pattern
Dress Pattern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to design 1930s inspired clothing for the dolls, evoking the kinds of clothes that H.F. duPont’s children and their friends might have worn while growing up at Winterthur. Armed with lots of construction paper, my desk quickly disappeared under a pile of failed attempts and paper scraps. My goal was to come up with a pattern that required as little gluing as possible, and relatively simple cutting. After much trial and error (I truly felt like a project runway contestant, fitting my sample dress onto the paper doll and cutting away to ensure the perfect fit), I finally developed a girl’s dress and a boy’s shirt and shorts that I hope kids and their families will like!

Boy's Outfit
Boy’s Outfit
Shirt and Shorts Patterns
Shirt and Shorts Patterns

Terrific Tuesdays, Part 1: Flowers and Food

Every Tuesday from July until the end of August, Winterthur offers “Terrific Tuesdays,” a family program that exposes kids to objects in the museum and museum work with crafts and games. This summer’s theme was the “Elements of Art” (color, value, shape, line, texture, form, and pattern), and each week’s activities revolved around one element. Along with about 5 tables staffed and developed by Public Programs, the conservation department and the gardens also manned tables. One or two local artists also came to give demonstrations each week (block printers, basket makers, and weavers, for instance).

I was “on loan” to Public Programs all day every Tuesday, working with  two interns from the University of Delaware (Carolanne and AnnaLivia) who spent their whole summer working exclusively on family programming. A group of about 7 teen volunteers also came in to staff tables on Tuesday and Thursday, when Winterthur took a selection of the week’s activities to the Salvation Army’s summer camp in Wilmington. I didn’t go to the Salvation Army every week, but I did go several times to help out, which was a lot of fun.

Here are the first two tables that I helped run this summer:

Bubble Hydrangea Cards: Color Week

Bubble Hydrangea Craft Station
Bubble Hydrangea Craft Station
Winterthur Hydrangeas
Winterthur Hydrangeas

I came up with bubble hydrangeas (or, rather, found the craft idea after lots of searching through Pinterest and mommy blogs!), and developed it (with indispensable help from the wonderful Carolanne and AnnaLivia). At first, the only how-to videos we could find on YouTube were in German, which might explain why the first round of testing ended in failure…

The internet showed children successfully making bubble patterns in paper with dye- we figured that we should be able to make successful bubbles too! We eventually discovered that glycerin is the  magic ingredient, and after that the craft went forward without a hitch.

The Winterthur gardens are full of hydrangeas, so we used the flowers as an anchor for the activity and also provided pH strips for kids to test in acidic and basic solutions. This taught them about pH, and we encouraged them to think about how hydrangea petals change colors based on the acidity of the soil. Both the litmus paper and the bubbles were popular with kids, parents, and grandparents! We did have to make sure that some of the smaller children blew bubbles out rather than drinking up paint through the straws, though.

Paint ready to be used...
Paint ready to be used…
My own attempt at making some bubble hydrangeas...
My own attempt at making some bubble hydrangeas…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clay Pretzels: Line Week

Pretzel Station (before the children arrived- this was the tidiest it looked all day!)
Pretzel Station (before the children arrived- this was the tidiest it looked all day!)

With model magic, paint, and salt, we made our own “fake food” like the imitation food found in the collection. Winterthur’s large Pennsylvania German collection and the fact that this week was “Line Week” made pretzels a natural choice. These pretzels were almost too realistic, however. My heart almost stopped when I looked down halfway through the day and saw a bite taken out of the sample pretzel- I turned and right next to me, a toddler had a mouth full of clay! Thankfully, his mother was nearby and quickly handled the problem, but then I had to move the pretzel to the center of the table because this child kept reaching for it! You would think that after one mouthful of clay he wouldn’t have been interested in seconds…

My sample pretzel (before it was almost eaten)
My sample pretzel (before it was almost eaten)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winterthur: Weeks 1 and 2

Weeks 1 and 2 passed in a whirlwind of activity as I settled into life in Delaware and working at Winterthur.

Winterthur Grounds: Fields away from the main house
Winterthur Grounds: One of my favorite views on the property!

Getting to the main gate on my first day was the easy part… finding the parking lot presented a bigger challenge. With instructions in an email on my phone and a map kindly offered by the gatehouse security officer, it was good I arrived a few minutes early. Several unmarked turns, a run-in with the resident geese, and a curving one-lane road up a small hill finally got me to the staff parking lot.

Amanda, the curatorial department’s graduate fellow, met me in the museum’s main atrium. We headed up 6 flights of stairs (the elevator was broken) to meet the other curators and show me my office. Afterwards, she spent the morning giving me a tour of the house itself as well as the more traditional gallery spaces and the new Dining by Design exhibit.

That afternoon, I sat in on a Room Committee meeting. Actually, “sitting in” gives the wrong idea; these meetings take place on the move. As part of a two-year grant, the curatorial staff is in the process of assessing items in the collection that could be deaccessioned. Each week, they visit a set of rooms and discuss potential candidates for removal. With all the curators gathered together, these meetings also offer the opportunity to consider tweaking room displays, rearranging furniture, or switching out objects that have been on display for too long. Observing this dialogue presents a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about the collection.  Interpretation styles also changed dramatically over the years. I already look much more carefully at the way the rooms are arranged.

Most of my days are not quite as scheduled as the first one, and I generally divide my time between several different projects and departments. On Tuesdays, I work with Public Programming, developing and helping staff “Terrific Tuesdays” (an art program for kids). Wednesday mornings are reserved for the curatorial staff meetings. One day of the week I also work in registration, assisting the graduate student and two other interns who are working on Winterthur’s ongoing storage project (installing better, more accessible storage over the next 10 years).

The rest of my time is spent working on smaller projects for different curators. During my first week, for instance, I helped Linda Eaton (the Textile Curator) prepare some dolls for a special tour. After Linda wrote up a sheet with basic information about the dolls to leave for the tour guide, we went to the Textile storage rooms and lifted down the boxes we needed (on the top shelf, of course). Then, we set up the dolls in the Textile Study Room along with student papers on several of the dolls from the graduate program.

Another project that took up quite a bit of time during my first two weeks also came from Linda, and required me to research the provenance of a potential purchase. I gave myself a crash course on folk art and 19th-century samplers as I attempted to use the few clues we possessed to assess the age of an unusual piece of needlework. I enjoyed the mystery, and also got the opportunity to become familiar with some of the antiques and auction house databases to which Winterthur subscribes as well as with the Winterthur library. Even Google Maps proved useful- I had never really appreciated the potential research uses of the satellite function before!

A (longer-term) task that I began in the first two weeks was related to an NEA grant Winterthur received to photograph parts of its collection. These object photographs needed to be attached to the catalogue itself, which required me to make multimedia files noting the image title, photo creator, copyright information, where users could find these photos stored, and who could access these photos. With over 600 photographs to insert, I am now very familiar with the contents of several songbooks and many sets of Winterthur wallpaper fragments!

Hello from Winterthur!

This summer I am lucky enough to be spending ten weeks at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library as William & Mary’s Woody Intern in Museum Studies. My name is Lydia Heaton, and am a rising senior majoring in History with a (soon-to-be-declared) minor in French & Francophone Studies. Countless childhood trips to museums and historical sites sparked my history obsession, and history (and public history) classes at William & Mary have only fed the flames. Despite my love of museums I had not worked at one before I arrived at Winterthur.

I plan to spend this internship observing as much as possible about the way museums operate and the responsibilities of different staff members as I try to decide which career path to pursue going into graduate school. Acquiring practical experience in object handling, object research, and public program development are additional goals that my responsibilities here at Winterthur are perfectly tailored to meet.

Although this is a late start to my summer blogging, I have posts planned about the first few weeks that will be coming soon and I’m more than ready to start documenting my museum-related adventures! It has certainly been a whirlwind, and I’ve already learned a lot.

A bit of background…

Turned into a museum by Henry Francis du Pont (or “H.F.” as he is affectionately referred to around here) in 1951, the oldest rooms in the sprawling main house date to the 1830s.  A horticulturalist and collector from the fabulously wealthy du Pont family,  Winterthur displays H.F.’s extraordinary collection of American decorative arts within his former home as well as in traditional gallery space. The arrangement of rooms and decor is eclectic. Turn a corner and you might find antique firefighting equipment, a room of miniature furniture, an elegant bedroom, or a bowling alley converted into a lane of shop windows. Even though I’ve been here for weeks, I still find a new part of the property almost every day. I probably telegraph my intern status pretty clearly, wandering around while frowning at my 9-page map. There are also three elevators, and just to confuse you, none of them run to every floor in the house. Only the 5th floor is part of the regular tour, which gives you a sense of the collection’s size!

The White and Gold Room on the 6th Floor, which I think is my favorite bedroom in the house (even though the furniture looks like it might break if you sat in it. If I took ownership, I think I would add an armchair...)
The White and Gold Room on the 6th Floor, which I think is my favorite bedroom in the house (even though the furniture looks like it might break if you sat in it. If I took ownership, I think I would add an armchair…)

As its official title suggests, Winterthur is more than just a museum. Its library and conservation labs support museum staff, visiting scholars, and graduate programs in American Material Culture and Art Conservation taught in partnership with the University of Delaware. Rolling fields and extensive gardens surround the house itself. An avid gardener, DuPont paid meticulous personal attention to the design and maintenance of his grounds. My next blog posts will go into more detail about my first few weeks and regular duties, but I will finish with a few highlights from my time here so far…

-Care and Handling: To my mild amazement, I am now allowed to touch the objects in the collection. Getting certified in Care & Handling was something I was very excited about. After watching a series of videos and filling out a worksheet, I walked through the house with one of Winterthur’s staff members and moved a teapot in Mrs. Dupont’s bedroom from one table to another. Certification does not imply expertise, however – the real learning process is ongoing, as I watch and help the curators and other staff members work with objects.

-Enchanted Summer Day: I volunteered at a Saturday event for kids celebrating the beginning of summer. The program was centered in Winterthur’s Enchanted Forest garden, but I manned one of the craft stations in the main entry hall. The grounds were full of families, and the event was a big success! I, meanwhile, have a new addition to my resume: making paper butterfly necklaces. Potential employers reading this, I don’t mean to brag when I say that I am now capable of making a pretty fabulous butterfly out of accordion-folded paper and beads. In all seriousness, the children were absolutely adorable (so much glitter! And pink! And fairy wings!), and I had a lot of fun.

– My office: My office is tucked away in the curatorial department on the 6th floor, full of an eclectic mix of postcards and printouts left by previous occupants (cataloguers formerly occupied the space). I am already thinking about what I want to add to the collage. Nothing will be as impressive as my personal favorite, though. Above the ceramic medallion of San Pietro in Rome, a cookie tin from Rainbow Row in Charleston, four mariachi rubber ducks, and two empty wine bottles, a two-foot-long wooden pig sculpture sits on the top shelf. Why is it here? Who decided that this pig was necessary office decoration? I have absolutely no idea, and no one else seems to know either!

The office pig...
The office pig…