WINTERTHUR MUSEUM, GARDEN & LIBRARY 2020 A N N U A L R E P O R T
At Winterthur, the events of 2020 changed our view of many things. We looked at the collections in exciting ways through exhibitions such as Re-Vision 20/20: Through a Woman’s Lens and Re-Presenting Black Womanhood. Through our computer monitors, we could see that virtual outreach was valuable and necessary. We found opportunity to renew an iconic garden. We looked at the house differently—as a canvas for a holiday light show like nothing Winterthur has ever presented. Having learned much over a year of adaptation and change, we look to the future through new eyes.
From the Chair
I have never been more proud of Winterthur.
In a year unlike any other in recent memory, a time that will be remembered most for social division and personal isolation, Carol Cadou and the staff at Winterthur united in new ways to surmount every challenge posed by Covid-19. When the governor closed nonessential businesses and cultural institutions for several weeks in the spring, dedicated gardeners, general services staff, and public safety officers worked on-site around the clock to maintain the estate and keep it safe. Academic programs and library staff quickly found new ways to serve students and researchers remotely. The curatorial, visitor engagement, and marketing departments rescheduled and reimagined programs, events, and exhibitions. Philanthropy renewed its commitment to members, donors, staff, volunteers, and stalwart supporters. A new task force began helping to find new ways to make Winterthur more diverse and inclusive. And through it all, the technology team helped staff across Winterthur learn new technologies that allowed us to reach out to the world. We may jest that implementing change feels like turning a tanker, but the Winterthur staff proved it could pivot on a dime, even as most worked from home. It required an uncommonly high degree of ingenuity, persistence, and hard work across the institution as well as the will to adapt and change in service of a greater good we all hold dear. When Winterthur could reopen in October, it set records for attendance at conferences—thanks to the access allowed by virtual presentation—weekend events sold out, and a new holiday celebration redefined what traditionally has been Winterthur’s busiest and happiest season. As I write, there is still no predicting how the pandemic will change our world, but we can all be assured that Winterthur is prepared. I am eternally grateful to Carol and the entire staff for their tireless efforts to ensure a bright future for our institution and community. Thank you.
Katharine P. Booth Chair, Board of Trustees Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
1 From the Chair
In every way, Winterthur met the challenges posed by Covid-19.
4 From the Director
People needed Winterthur more than ever in 2020. In response, we redefined “connection.”
6 Highlights of 2020
The ambassador from France visits. So does a tornado. CBS Sunday Morning focuses on Winterthur—twice. And more.
10 A Year of Change, Learning, and New Successes During a year of uncertainty, Winterthur reached out in novel ways to draw visitors in. It worked in ways no one could have imagined. 16 Discovering Ruth In a year of celebrating women, Winterthur explores the life of leading lady Ruth Wales du Pont.
20 A Jewel among Gardens Gets New Sparkle Replanting of the Sundial Garden begins with new boxwoods.
22 Recent Acquisitions and Loans
From a Navajo woven garment to a stunning picture-Bible, Winterthur expanded its collections in significant ways.
Winterthur said goodbye to some beloved friends in 2020.
32 The Generosity of Friends The 2020 Honor Roll of Donors
34 Everything Has a Place
So says Bill Smith. His place is the house and galleries, where he keeps everything clean and orderly.
38 The Queen of Clean
Lori Blevins Myers’s top concern is protecting public health.
44 A True Connector
When visitors couldn’t come to Winterthur, Allison Dunckel took Winterthur to them via social media.
46 Financial Statement
Cover: The exact history of this flag, ca. 1912, is unknown, but careful examination suggests it was an existing flag that was repurposed to reflect progress toward suffrage by adding stars as new states granted women the right to vote. It might also have been altered hastily for an important suffrage event. On loan from the collection of Heather and Anthony Iasso, the flag was displayed in Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence on view in the Galleries from October 1, 2020, to February 2021.
From the Director
Like many around the world last winter, we at Winterthur watched intently as Covid-19 spread from China to Europe to the United States and, eventually, to Delaware. Even before the virus arrived in our state, protecting the health and safety of the Winterthur community had become our number one priority.
Despite all of our efforts, the governor ordered the closure of all nonessential Delaware businesses, including cultural institutions, in late March. Most of our staff went home to work remotely, but the needs of the estate did not stop.
Business functions needed to be maintained. Our students needed instruction. Researchers needed access to library materials. Programs, events, and exhibitions needed to be reimagined and rescheduled. We needed to prepare for the safe return of visitors. And, until a reopening, we needed, above all, to stay connected—to one another as coworkers and collaborators and to all of Winterthur’s constituencies. We realized quickly that people needed Winterthur more than ever. Our social media engagement soared as an ad hoc campaign of beautiful photos and video tours, made by staff members on their smart phones, won an overwhelmingly grateful response. As an Instagram post of a kit fox photographed on the estate went viral, we realized we were as united by our individual need for the company of others as we were by a beauty only Winterthur could offer. We made new connections and tried to share the beauty of simple acts of kindness. Early in the shutdown, our dining contractor, Restaurant Associates, donated dozens of meals to the Food Bank of Delaware. The conservation department donated numerous boxes of nitrile gloves and personal protective equipment to Westside Family Healthcare, a provider to the underserved in Wilmington. Our florists also helped by donating plants and flowers to the nonprofit Petals Please, which provides bouquets to residents of senior centers, shut-ins, and others who need a little cheer. At the same time, staff reached out virtually, connecting with students and organizing exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and other programs that were attended by visitors from around the world. When we could finally welcome guests back to the estate in October, even with capacities modified for safety reasons, we saw old friends
The Path Forward
The Vision Winterthur inspires exploration of American culture and landscapes through compelling stories and experiences.
and many news ones. They flocked to perennial events such as the Truck and Tractor Parade and to new events such as the Walking Wine Tour and Drive-in Movie Weekend. All seemed grateful for the opportunity to bring back a sense of normalcy within Winterthur’s safe environment. Covid-19 changed Winterthur and America’s arts and cultural institutions, likely in lasting ways. You will read about the ways it impacted Winterthur on the pages that follow. We have many good stories to tell. I am immensely proud of the staff and our volunteers for their extra efforts, and I am ever grateful for the Winterthur community’s steadfast support.
Our Values Agility
Excellence Innovation Integrity Inclusion Transparency
Our Priorities Preserve and Promote the Entire Winterthur Estate Engage Our Visitors Expand Our Educational Impact Secure Winterthur’s Future
Carol B. Cadou Charles F. Montgomery Director and CEO Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Build a Dynamic and Cohesive Team Transform Winterthur’s Digital Approach
Photo by Maria DeForrest
Highlights of 2020 The ambassador from France visits. So does a tornado. CBS Sunday Morning focuses on Winterthur—twice. And more. A Whirlwind Year Among the most prominent visitors in 2020 was a tornado. It left its mark. When it rains, it pours. On August 7, just three days after the torrents of rain Hurricane Isaias dumped on Delaware, a major tornado tore through Winterthur, destroying 90 trees across the estate and leaving it without power for more than two-and-a-half days. And if the rainfall from Isaias was bad—4.7 inches over seven hours—the drenching from the tornado was worse. In 45 minutes the storm dropped 4.1 inches of rain, more than a tenth of the local total for an average year. The Delaware Environmental Observing System station near Winterthur recorded 1.03 inches in one five-minute period alone, a weather event that can be expected only once every 1,000 years. The rain overwhelmed waterways across the estate, flowing over the banks of Clenny Run, covering bridges, and streaming over roads. The flood covered Museum Road, and the water level around the irrigation pump house near the East Barn rose to about eight feet above normal. Damage was significant. Two feet of water pooled in the basement of the Cottage, and the equipment room of the Crowninshield Building also flooded, damaging
staff three days to reopen the main roads, a week to open all roads, and a month to clear the trails,” said Chris Strand, Brown Harrington Director of Garden and Estate. Supporters came to the rescue, donating $40,000 toward the tree cleanup. Significant trees lost included a large white oak of unknown age in Brown’s Woods meadow, a 140-year-old white oak on Old Gate House Road, and a 300-year-old white oak that stood alone by the back gate, an icon to the hundreds of motorists who had passed it on Route
100 every day. “At that age, obviously, it was a survivor,” Strand said. “Unfortunately, it succumbed to this storm.” Remarkably, there was no major tree damage to any of the 118 structures on the property. Some of the white oaks will be milled for lumber. Some will be made into unique collectibles. And some may be used in an upcoming exhibition. “They will have a life beyond this garden,” Strand said.
the heating-air condition system and nearly destroying electrical transformers. The storm also took out a switch gear— essentially a giant fuse—in the 1750 House, which contains major systems for the museum. The duration of the power outage threatened the collection, but electricity was restored just in time to prevent a serious compromise to temperature and humidity. With winds up to 105 mph, the tornado felled
Trees felled by tornado across the estate 90
about 90 trees across the estate. Half needed to be removed. “It took contract arborists and Winterthur
Soup’s On CBS Sunday Morning explored Winterthur’s collection of tureens. As the eyes of the nation focused on Delaware in November, CBS Sunday Morning focused on Winterthur. Correspondent Rita Braver, producer Robbyn McFadden, and two cameramen visited October 19 to tape a segment about the museum’s collection of soup tureens for the November 22 episode. With camera crews in high demand during the presidential campaigns, McFadden packed two days of recording into one. Starting at 8:00 a.m., the crew taped interviews with Leslie Grigsby, senior curator of ceramics and glass, and Ann Wagner, curator of decorative arts. Then they set up near the Reflecting Pool, where Braver served Grigsby mushroom soup from what she jokingly described as “the ugliest tureen in the world,” a gift from her wedding. The crew spent the afternoon, filming still shots of tureens in the Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens until about 6:00 p.m. “We were glad the tureens caught Rita’s eye, but we weren’t surprised, because they are always a popular with museum visitors,” Wagner said. “The tureen collection has an appeal that is almost as universal as soup eating is. And, like soup, the collection holds something to satisfy every taste.” The visit by CBS was the second in 2020. Braver noticed the tureens in July, when she came to interview conservation students and Joyce Hill Stoner, director of preservation studies for the Winterthur/UD Program in Art Conservation, about their work on dioramas from the 1940 American Negro Exhibition in Chicago. That segment appeared on the August 30 episode of CBS Sunday Morning as part of a larger story about the exhibition, allowing Winterthur to explain to viewers nationwide its part in an effort to diversify the field of art conservation. Both of the Winterthur segments are available at cbsnews.com.
France Returns to the Brandywine Valley
Ambassador Phillippe Etienne and others visited Winterthur and learned of its French connections. Winterthur welcomed a small group of distinguished guests from France, via Washington, D.C., on September 24. French Ambassador Phillippe Etienne, his wife, Patricia, and Consul General François Penguilly were greeted upon their arrival by Board Chair Kathy Booth, Director Carol B. Cadou, Associate Curator Stephanie Delamaire, Estate Historian Jeff Groff, and Jane Drummond, executive assistant to the director and board of trustees. Groff began the ambassador’s tour with an overview of the history and French heritage of the du Pont and Bidermann families. Groff and Delamaire then led the small party on a tour. Booth accompanied the diplomats, pointing out notable objects along the way. A few French connections in the Winterthur collection were highlighted, among them the Chinese Parlor, whose hand-painted wallpaper was discovered in Paris. Delamaire made the tour more meaningful and enjoyable by discussing noteworthy works of art with the visitors in her native French. The most significant example graces the elegant Du Pont Dining Room. It is the famous unfinished Benjamin West painting of the peace treaty between America and Britain that was signed in Paris. Another link the visitors delighted in learning about was the connection between Henry Francis du Pont and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, a devotée of French antiques. After the tour, the ambassador’s party asked to see the famous garden they had heard so much about. Their itinerary allowed just enough time for a short stroll to the Reflecting Pool.
Highlights of 2020
Booked Solid The library may have been quieter than usual this year, but the staff was as busy as ever. Most people think of curbside service as a no-contact way to pick up orders from stores during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Winterthur Library redefined the term in 2020, providing curbside pickup of pre-ordered books to anyone who requested them while Winterthur was closed to the public in the spring and summer of 2020. Even after reopening the library on a limited basis in early August, “That continued to be a value,” said Library Director Emily Guthrie. “People have concerns about sharing the space and doing research on-site.” In a typical year, the Winterthur Library serves about 4,000 researchers from around the world. In this atypical year of travel restrictions, business closures, and isolation, on-site visits were not possible until August, and then on a limited basis only. The library had to rethink its model of service. The library built on its digital presence. From a stockpile of previously scanned images, staff members uploaded about 5,000 images to the library’s database from their homes. “We’ve seen a real uptick in use,” Guthrie said. As the library continued to serve researchers remotely, it often needed to seek out others in the special collections community and organizations such as the Independent Research Libraries Association. Guthrie says. “We’ve gotten to know colleagues we never needed to reach out to before.” And the library built upon existing relationships with digital publishers, even as it established connections with new ones. Publishers pay royalties to Winterthur for supplying primary source material from its collections for subscription-based digital collections such as “Trade Catalogues in the American Home,” an AdamMatthew Digital product, which sold to prestigious libraries from Harvard to Tsinghua University in Beijing. Through these digitization-for-
Buy George Winterthur contributed a special exhibition of American icons to the Washington Winter Show.
It was no small feat moving forty objects for temporary—but prestigious—exhibit at the annual Washington Winter Show, but the effort proved to be a resounding success. “It was a wonderful opportunity to display the treasures of Winterthur in our nation’s capital,” Carol B. Cadou, Charles F. Montgomery Director and CEO of Winterthur said. Winterthur contributed the loan exhibition Icons of America: George Washington and Beyond as part of the show’s overall theme, “Iconic George!” January 10–12 at The Katzen Arts Center at American University. Working with the Winterthur curatorial, exhibitions, conservation, and registration teams, curator Leslie Grigsby selected some of Winterthur’s most important objects to celebrate three main themes: George Washington, America’s Natural Wonders, and the Great Seal of the United States. An important goal was to surprise viewers with the international fascination with America, especially during and soon after the Revolutionary War. “It was a whirlwind,” said Curator of Exhibitions Kim Collison. Conservators needed to treat some objects for the exhibition. One art handler spent a week packing objects. Labels had to be produced. Mounts needed to be made, and display cases needed cleaning. Everything had to be delivered and installed in a day, then, on the final evening, packed up again for return to Winterthur. The Washington Winter Show also featured the lecture “More Than America’s Treasure House: Henry Francis du Pont’s Winterthur” by Director of External Affairs Tom Savage. Grigsby addressed groups of children from the schools and social service providers who benefited from show proceeds. “The whole point was to build relationships in the Washington, D.C., area,” said Bruce Perkins of the Winterthur Board of Trustees, who, in part, funded the exhibition. “In that way, it was a great success.”
profit initiatives, the library has earned more than $80,000 over the past four years, and the exposure helps to maintain Winterthur’s high profile in the field.
Staff & Members uploaded images to the library database from home 5,000
John Trumbull, Washington at Verplanck's Point, New York, N.Y., 1790. Gift of Henry Francis du Pont 1964.2201 A
Making New Friends Recently formed partnerships benefit all.
Winterthur has formed two new partnerships that will broaden audiences for all involved. We welcomed the Choir School of Delaware as artists-in-residence. And while the Delaware Museum of Natural History is closed for renovations in 2021, Winterthur will host DMNH events and programs. As artists-in-residence at Winterthur, the Choir School of Delaware presented the fun-filled “Sounds of the Season” concert during the Yuletide holiday season. The partnership builds on a relationship established when the Choir School performed a concert of British music based on the Costuming THE CROWN exhibition in December 2019. The Choir School provides at-risk children in the greater Wilmington area academic support, mentoring, and services that are amplified by the power of music. Students have earned a 100 percent high school graduation rate, with all going on to higher education or the military. Performances are scheduled at Winterthur in 2021. Big changes are coming to DMNH, which will undergo its largest redesign since the museum opened in 1972. Its mission is, in part, to inspire people of all ages to a lifetime of exploration and discovery—as Winterthur’s mission is to explore and discover American history. Members of each institution enjoy reduced or free admission for the duration of the partnership. DMNH will reopen in 2022. “The partnership is more than simply being good neighbors on Route 52,” said Carol B. Cadou, the Charles F. Montgomery Director and CEO at Winterthur. “We have combined forces for an increased number of students, teachers, children, and families in a way that is long overdue. With complimentary missions, and a desire to impact the lives of curious, young learners, we look forward working together to extend our educational reach.”
Very Cool A generous grant from Crystal Trust will provide for a new chiller. Among the good news received in December was a grant of nearly $363,000 from Crystal Trust to replace a failing chiller. One of six aging units, the chiller is needed to regulate the temperature in the museum and Louise du Pont Crowninshield Research Building so that it is comfortable for people inside and safe for the collections and work in the conservation labs. Without this crucial chiller—essentially an air conditioner for very large spaces—the priceless collection of antiques would be subject to wide fluctuations in temperature and humidity, which could damage every object. In the next five years, Winterthur will need to replace, repair, or improve much of its infrastructural components to meet code, reduce utilities costs, and reduce its carbon footprint. The Crystal Trust grant allows work to begin on Chiller 4, which is concealed in the 1750 House. Locally based Crystal Trust supports higher and secondary education and social and family services and health and hospitals as well as the arts and cultural programs, conservation programs, and historical preservation. Winterthur appreciates the Trust’s great generosity and strong support over the years.
A Year of Change, Learning, AND NEW SUCCESSES
Erring on the Side of Caution At the start of the Covid crisis, Winterthur made health and safety its highest priority. By the time Governor Carney issued a stay-at-home order and closed all nonessential businesses—including cultural institutions—to the public on March 22, most Winterthur employees had been teleworking from home for about two weeks. After the governor’s order, only essential staff—public safety officers, gardeners, and some general services personnel—was permitted on-site. New policies required mask wearing indoors and, in some cases, nitrile gloves. Gatherings in shared break areas were discontinued, and staggering meal times meant that staff could keep a safe distance from one another. Reservations-only visits provided effective contract tracing, as did employment records for showing where and when staffers were present. As essential employees at Winterthur worked to secure, maintain, and clean the property, many of those at home had to find new ways of working while performing standard business functions, keeping a closed museum relevant, and planning for a safe reopening.
During a year of uncertainty, Winterthur reached out in novel ways to draw visitors in—and it worked in ways no one could have imagined. In early March, Carol B. Cadou, Charles F. Montgomery Director and CEO of Winterthur, huddled with a few advisers to discuss the growing threat of Covid-19. No case had yet been identified in Delaware, but with the number of infections rising in neighboring states, it was only a matter of time. A response was needed quickly to keep everyone safe. General Services staff immediately increased the frequency of cleaning visitor areas and shared work spaces and began providing hand sanitizer in public areas. The newly formed Covid-19 Task Force advised all staff members, students, and volunteers to take every appropriate precaution against infection in order to keep themselves and their families and all visitors safe. When Governor John Carney declared a state of emergency about a week later, Winterthur was prepared. All programs and events were suspended, and all staff, excepting essential employees, went home to work until further notice.
A new exhibition, Re-Vision 20/20: Through a Woman’s Lens , which opened for a
“The bottom line is that we are upholding excellence across the board.”
Signs for social distancing and hand washing 474
The next seven months brought periods of great challenge to the Winterthur, but in that time, the staff created amazing new opportunities that taught the value of doing things differently. Winterthur gained a new sense of resiliency and, in many ways, expanded its reach by finding new audiences—some live, some virtual, some at home, others abroad. “The bottom line is that we are upholding excellence across the board,” says Catharine Dann Roeber, the Brock W. Jobe Associate Professor of Decorative Arts and Material Culture.
10 2020 Annual Report
brief time before the closure, was outfitted with colorful signs that encouraged social distancing and one-way traffic. The garden staff also installed one-way signs to prevent walkers from
themselves new skills, such as how to light objects and magnify the screen view for close examination of, for example, a bit of cloth. “It has forced us to think more critically about the curriculum and to take a deeper online dive into objects in the collection,” Roeber says. As Academic Programs adjusted to the realities of remote instruction, staff from Visitor Engagement and other departments began to reschedule events and programs that were canceled in the spring—more than 100—and then reimagine some as socially distanced affairs or as online offerings. From the high response to posts made on Winterthur’s social media platforms early in the closure, the institution felt the eagerness and enthusiasm of online audiences. A special online presentation of textiles from the collection, organized for World Embroidery Day on July 30, drew 130 participants from Maine to Alaska. In October a similar model was scaled up to host Winterthur’s popular Needlework Conference and Furniture Forum. Staff researched the best online platform and essentially trained itself on the technology as it coordinated video recordings by several presenters and, over the weekends of the events, ran live panel discussions. “No one had any
crossing each other too closely. Over the months, 474 signs were posted across the estate to encourage social distancing and hand washing, and 15 hand sanitizer stations were installed. The gardens team also hastened to develop digital maps for a smartphone application, which pointed people to new trails on rarely explored areas of the estate, thus ensuring even greater distance. And the same application provided information about the objects in Re-Vision 20/20 , which kept visitors moving by preventing the need to linger while reading labels for the objects. Elsewhere, staff installed Plexiglass ™ shields on trams and at reception desks, anticipating the day visitors would be permitted to return. Even as the state slowly began to reopen in May and June, Winterthur erred on the side of protecting public health. Though the gardens opened with a diminished capacity, ensured by a system of timed reservations, Winterthur waited to open indoor areas until it was confident it could do so safely. At the same time, staff across the institution explored and prepared new ways to present Winterthur to world. A New Virtual Reality One of the main tasks was to find new ways to serve the Winterthur community of visitors, researchers, and students. Early in the closures, instructors in Academic Programs scrambled to find ways to teach without meeting in classrooms or working in the conservation labs. They quickly arranged classes over the online meeting platform Zoom, then, without access to the collection, scoured online markets for objects—bits of textiles, old photographs, historic prints—that could be mailed to students for learning fundamental skills such as close looking.
experience with any of this,” says Lois Stoehr, curator of
Attendees of the October needlework conference 419
Mary King, Tree of Life , embroidered silkwork, Philadelphia, Pa., 1754. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1966.0978
education. The annual Delaware Antiques Show in November likewise shifted to an online platform—one enhanced by a series of lectures by Winterthur’s experts. The show generated 12,000 unique page views.
“Obviously, we couldn’t ship our collection objects,” says Roeber. The instructors also needed to teach
Other online courses and workshops that were first offered in July became popular by October.
A Year of Change, Learning, and New Successes 11
Winterthur’s floral designers offered virtual floral design workshops that drew many repeat participants. Guests from as far as California enjoyed a chocolate tasting with a nationally known pastry chef on National Chocolate Day.
way, we could all see one other again. We’ve all been alone and separated, so that was important.”
The benefits of virtual outreach were sometimes surprising, and the efforts were enormously successful. An annual study trip for graduate students could be expanded in new ways. “We could engage with a broader geographical area, and we could participate in national conversations about our cultural heritage, says Roeber. “How else could you go from Virginia to New Orleans in an hour?” As a major institution from the host city, Winterthur also organized and moderated three panel discussions for the 2020 annual meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums,
Monthly Crafternoons maintained a loyal following and offered several learning activities that participants could download from the Winterthur website to complete at home. With the support of M&T Bank, three virtual, interactive field trips were designed for area students in kindergarten through sixth grade. By October, 40 programs had been booked for fall and winter, with
about 1,000 students to participate. A series of Tuesday evening lectures, rescheduled from spring, consistently attracted more than 150 attendees. Almost every department at Winterthur shifted to remote programming in some way. Beginning in April, members of Winterthur’s Collectors Circle took part in regular online “salons,” a half-hour lecture— often with cocktails—hosted by a Winterthur
which was to have been held at Hotel Du Pont in Wilmington before Covid-19.
Embroidery guests from around the world 400
The Inspired Needle: Embroidery Past & Present , a needlework conference in October, drew some 400 guests from across the United States as well England, Australia, Austria, and other countries. Attendance was more than twice what
Winterthur can host on-site.
expert every other week. These enabled members from as far as the West Coast to experience Winterthur more frequently than they could in person. “We could bring our community of donors together,” says Amanda Hinckle, assistant director of major gifts. “Many of them are friends. They travel together. This
“We tried to embrace technology and its advantages rather than fight them. We’re still learning,” says Stoehr. “But we are supporting our friends better, and we are introducing new audiences to Winterthur all the time. It’s important to think about this moving forward.”
12 2020 Annual Report
Success Builds on Success By the time Winterthur reopened all areas—including the house, Galleries, Bookstore, Museum Store, and café—on October 1, new outdoor events had been planned, and perennial favorites had been re-created to be safe and socially distanced. Capacity was reduced by law, but bolstered by a lively new Fall for Winterthur marketing campaign. Most programs and events sold out—many of them attracted new, younger, and more diverse audiences.
A sold-out Music Along the Bank concert in September had already proven successful. Guests enjoyed new themed tram tours and two new walking tours presented by thirteen estate guides. Truck and Tractor Day in October became the Truck and Tractor Parade, with socially distanced picnicking along the route. A new Drive-in Movie Weekend on the grounds of our annual Point-to-Point steeplechase race and event attracted young families and tailgaters. “It felt so good for people to be out,” says Jennie Brown, manager of audience engagement. “That was a constant thread, that it was good to do something normal again and feel safe. People want to come to Winterthur to have fun and enjoy themselves.”
A Year of Change, Learning, and New Successes 13
CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS TOGETHER AT WINTERTHUR
Also new, Tram and Treat spread more than 500 family revelers across twenty-five acres for candy, games, and a scavenger hunt. A Walking Wine Tasting in the fall introduced eight tasting stations across the estate to take full advantage of the landscape, historic structures, and splendid views. It proved so popular, another was added for Winterthur’s holiday schedule. It, too, sold out. Planners had been brainstorming ways to revitalize Winterthur’s annual holiday celebration—one of the most beloved traditions in the Brandywine Valley—since before the closure, but Covid-19 posed new challenges. “We needed a scenario A, B, C, and D,” Brown says. For the first time, Winterthur opened on Thanksgiving and on Christmas Day. A new marketing campaign, and a fresh graphic look, a clear break from the past, welcomed visitors to “Celebrate the Holidays Together at Winterthur.” The Yuletide Tour, instead of ranging across several floors in the house, was reimagined as a capacity-limited, one-way, self-guided experience on the fifth floor so that visitors could maintain distance and move at a comfortable pace.
Crafting workshops and socially distanced concerts by the Choir School of Delaware were part of a full schedule of new events planned. Family offerings included outdoor events, such as S’mores by the Fire and a Kids Tram to Enchanted Woods. Holiday decorating—including a new fifteen-foot tree on the East Terrace— appeared across outdoor areas. Perhaps most exciting, a spectacular holographic light show was projected on the Port Royal facade of the house in the evenings, drawing visitors into a du Pont family holiday celebration. And new traditions were incorporated to include visitors of all kinds. “Some of our responses to Covid will stay, post- Covid, for sure,” says Brown. “We know our community wants exciting new things to do and see.” Which all points toward new engagement, different ways to reach out to new audiences, and to creating new traditions for the future.
14 2020 Annual Report
Photo © 2018 PaintScaping, Inc. All rights reserved.
A Year of Change, Learning, and New Successes 15
16 2020 Annual Report
In a year of celebrating women, Winterthur explored the life of leading lady Ruth Wales du Pont.
Ruth met Henry Francis du Pont around 1908 in Washington, D.C., where they were both part of a social set of young people with politically connected parents. About four years later, she visited Winterthur for the first time, and in May 1916, they got engaged. The news was a surprise. Ruth was wary of marriage, having lived with the tension in her parents’ relationship. Henry had been devastated at a young age by the loss of his mother. They married in June 1916, then moved into Winterthur with Henry’s father, Colonel Henry Algernon du Pont. Though Ruth tried to find a comfortable place and function in the household, an imperfect relationship with the demanding colonel caused her great discomfort. Just the same, the young couple enjoyed the lifestyle of wealthy young people of their time and soon had two daughters. Over the years, Ruth became the lady of four houses: Winterthur; a Park Avenue Apartment in New York City; a winter place in Boca Grande, Florida; and a house on the beach in Southampton, New York—her favorite. The du Ponts traveled and entertained extensively, and Henry pursued his varied interests. Through it all, Ruth maintained a steady correspondence with her mother, to whom she wrote daily. Those letters, housed in the Winterthur Library, and oral histories made by former estate historian Maggie Lidz became key sources for Lady of the House and a window into a woman both Harper and Groff grew very fond of. “She spent several hours a day on correspondence, managing servants, overseeing the planning of parties, all these different arrangements,” Groff says. “She is of her time as a woman of wealth. She followed the line of a society matron. It’s not a very laudatory life as we look at it now, but it has to be put in the context of its time. And there really was much more to her.” Ruth’s life “was not a bowl of cherries,” Harper says. Stemming from her parents’ marriage and her relationship with her father-in-law, she suffered bouts of melancholy, for which she sought professional help. And there was the decline of her music. Once an avid student at the Peabody Conservatory, her pursuit waned as her role as wife grew more complex. Having connected immediately with Ruth through their mutual love and study of music, Harper felt Ruth’s disappointment. She found many other “touch points” in their experiences as mothers.
Visitors have asked some form of the question hundreds of times over the years:
Was there a Mrs . du Pont?
“When I started here as a guide, I never heard anything about Mrs. du Pont,” says Debbie Harper, senior curator of education. As she read a memoir written by Mrs. du Pont’s daughter, published in 1999, “my interest grew,” she says. And by the time Winterthur celebrated its 50th anniversary as a museum in 2001, enough was known to include her in the special exhibition Life at Winterthur . By 2020, as the institution celebrated women on the centenary year of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote, the time had come for a fuller picture. Lady of the House: Ruth Wales du Pont , curated by Harper, former librarian Jeanne Solensky, and estate historian Jeff Groff, opened October 1. “It was the perfect time to showcase Ruth and her importance,” Groff says. “Until recently, it was all about Henry Francis du Pont. He collected things. He selected the flowers. He arranged the table. But she was a really appealing and interesting individual.” Ruth Wales du Pont was born in Hyde Park, New York, in 1889. Though her family was socially prominent, it was not wealthy, so finances were a worry that strained her parents’ marriage. As a teen, she boarded at the prestigious Miss Spence’s School, where she learned the principal skills taught to girls of her day, such as how to manage house staff. But her great love was music, and she pursued its study vigorously. It was an aspect of Ruth Wales that Harper, who has a bachelor’s degree in music, most related to from the beginning of her research into Ruth.
Harrington Mann, Ruth Wales du Pont and Her Daughter Pauline Louise , New York, N.Y., 1921. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1970.0560 A
Discovering Ruth 17
“In a letter to her daughter who was away at boarding school, she writes, essentially, ‘Hey kid, are we ever going to hear from you again?’ Who hasn’t said that?” Harper says.“And there was a note to the head mistress of school, asking to excuse one of the girls for an orthodontist appointment. ‘I know mistress isn’t going to like this, but what can I do?’ That hasn’t changed since 1930. That’s my story, too. On the surface, it seems so different, but there are many commonalities.” Those commonalities are what is so delightful and interesting about discovering Ruth Wales du Pont, and one reason why it was important to present a full and transparent view. New lines of research, as well as visitor interest, will likely lead to more information about the long history of other women at Winterthur.
“Going forward, we definitely want to do that more,” Groff says. “I think there’s lots of opportunity.”
Supporters Louise and David Roselle Exhibitions Endowment Mr. and Mrs. John L. McGraw Dr. Donald J. Puglisi and Ms. Marichu Valencia Anonymous Mrs. George P. Bissell, Jr. Ambassador and Mrs. W. L. Lyons Brown Ms. Catherine G. Ebert Ms. Cynthia A. Hewitt and Mr. C. Daniel Holloway Mr. Edward W. Kane and Ms. Martha J. Wallace With special thanks to the following donors who have made this exhibition possible: Delaware Division of the Arts Dr. and Mrs. Robert E. Booth, Jr .
18 2020 Annual Report
Revising Exhibitions around Covid-19 Creates New Benefits
Other exhibitions had to be revised and shifted as well, freeing staff to install signs that encouraged one-way traffic and social distancing for an eventual re-opening of the galleries. Shifting galleries reduced the footprint of Re- Presenting Black Womanhood, curated by students in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture and the University of Delaware, but enlarged the presence online. “The digital
There are always silver linings.
When Delaware Governor John Carney issued a stay-at-home order for all state residents in response to Covid-19 on March 24, the exhibition Re-Vision 20/20: Through a Woman’s Lens had been open a mere three weeks. With only essential staff allowed on-site, installation of other exhibitions had to be postponed or revised. That proved a boon for Lady of the House: Ruth Wales du Pont, and it benefited other planned exhibitions in unexpected ways. Lady of the House was originally conceived as a jewel-box exhibition for a small corner of the upstairs galleries. “It was appropriate and important to recognize Ruth as Winterthur celebrated the centennial of women’s right to vote,” says Alexandra Deutsch, director of Museum Engagement. “She had a central role here.”
environment really expanded what we could do,” says Catharine Dann Roeber, the Brock W. Jobe Associate Professor of Decorative Arts and Material Culture. “We found much more material than we could fit into the gallery exhibition, and we could link back to the site of contemporary artists who are included in the exhibition.”
And because Lady of the House shifted the exhibition Erica Wilson: A Life in Stitches —about the popular needlework artist, entrepreneur, and pioneering television personality—it, too, was moved online, increasing access by users at home. “It really pushed us to enhance the material and use it in new ways, and it helped us realize the potential of online exhibitions,” Kim Collison, curator of exhibitions, says. Both exhibitions were also added to a smart phone application that had been developed for Re-Vision . Using the app in the exhibition helped guide visitors in a one- way traffic flow and provided labels and supplemental material such as videos on their own devices. It also provided handheld access to tours and maps of the house and gardens. Expanding the app helped Winterthur realize its potential for future exhibitions in the house, galleries, and gardens—and its potential for broadening audiences is almost limitless.
The centerpiece of Lady of the House was to be a re-creation of du Pont’s stunning wedding dress, supplemented by a few personal objects, but with mandatory Covid-19 restrictions, such as reduced capacity and social distancing in place, “That made no sense,” says Deutsch. So the exhibitions team and others moved Lady of the House to a larger gallery upstairs, which enlarged the exhibition footprint by five. The wedding gown kept a place of honor as more objects— including several pieces of Ruth’s beloved sheet music, her golf bag and clubs, and picnic hampers—were added. Increased wall space allowed more of her letters and other information to be displayed.
A JEWEL AMONG GARDENS Gets New Sparkle
Replanting of the Sundial Garden begins with new boxwoods.
Gardens, Inc., an occasional Winterthur partner, spent a day and a half removing the old rows, then two more days planting 227 Glencoe boxwood along 668 linear feet on 3-foot centers. Glencoe, with its beauty and hardiness, was the winner of four boxwood varieties the garden team trialed over three seasons. Planting the shrubs precisely was the highest priority. “Five people worked on shrub placement alone,” Long says. “It takes a lot of concentration. If something is awry, you really see it. In a more naturalistic-style garden design, that’s not a worry.” Cotswold Gardens also planted 48 Forsythia viridissima ‘Bronxensis’, a dwarf cultivar, on the Pinetum side of the hedge. “That really brought it back to the historic design,” Long says. Work will continue on the interior beds closest to the sundial. The historic design showed a boxwood front with privet honeysuckle behind. In the restoration of the 1990s, a replacement for the honeysuckle was used due to its poor performance. The barberry chosen ended up growing larger than expected, so in June it was removed. The detail of the boxwood fronts has returned, and the backs will be planted with plum yew next spring. “Our goal in caring for this historic garden is to preserve Mr. du Pont's design intent,” says Linda Eirhart, senior curator of plants. “Restoring the hedge was a vital part of that work.” “The Winterthur Garden is like a big old-fashioned brooch with a big jewel in the middle of it,” says Strand. “The Sundial Garden is the jewel.” Coffin did not live to see the garden finished. Du Pont completed it without his lifelong friend. The Sundial Garden that they planned together—she laid out the design and he chose the plants—is a monument to their friendship, a place of special beauty.
There are many things that make Winterthur’s Sundial Garden special. One is the intense profusion of pink, white, and lavender flowers that blossom each April. Another is the fundamental structure of the formal design. Not least is its significance as the last garden Henry Francis du Pont designed with landscape architect Marian Coffin, his dear friend, who was the first woman in the United States to own a landscape architecture firm. So it was only fitting that, in a year when Winterthur celebrated women across the estate, the Sundial Garden was given new life. “Next to the Reflecting Pool, I think it was Marian Coffin’s most successful project for beauty,” says Chris Strand, Brown Harrington Director of Garden and Estate. But beauty often fades with age. The original shrub row of English boxwood—a plant that is easily diseased and ill-suited to Delaware winters—had long ago declined. They had been replaced with native inkberry holly. But that, too, finally grew “leggy,” says garden curator Carol Long, so it was removed in fall 2018. Its absence was revealing. “It gave us a chance to see the garden without it. It was kind of exciting,” Long says. “The bones and structure are really good. The lesson, the essence of the garden, is what it is when it’s not in season. It didn’t look bad without the hedge, but it’s one more layer of good design.” The hedge aligns views of the Brick Lookout on Sycamore Hill with the armillary sundial on an east- west axis and the sundial with the Quince Walk in the Pinetum on a south-north axis. But unlike Coffin’s work on the East Terrace of the house and the Reflecting Pool, where structures such as staircases reinforce the formal design, plants alone create the formality of the Sundial Garden. “We had tried to renovate the shrub partition through regeneration, but it didn’t give the result we wanted,” Long says. So in April, a team of eighteen from Cotswold
“ The Winterthur Garden is like a big old-fashioned brooch with a big jewel in the middle of it. The Sundial Garden is the jewel. ”
Thank you to Winterthur Garden and Landscape Society members and everyone who contributed to the hedge replanting for making this project possible.
Sundial photo by Bob Leitch
A Jewel among Gardens Gets New Sparkle 21
Acquisitions and Loans
Group of Framed Art, Tables and Chairs, Tools, and Hardware from the Shop of Cabinetmaker Henry Kellam Hancock A grouping of portraits, furniture, brasses and hardware, hand tools, design books, and a large portfolio of loose furniture design prints and drawings descended directly from the owner, Boston cabinetmaker Henry Kellam Hancock, to the donor before it was received at Winterthur in December. As the most complete body of material to survive from the early nineteenth century to document a successful and important, though little- studied, Boston cabinetmaker, the grouping is an unparalleled resource. Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, Hancock (1788– 1854) was one of four brothers who entered the cabinetmaking and upholsterer’s trade. Listed in the Boston City Directory from 1816 to 1854 as a “cabinet and chair maker,” he made and sold furniture out of his own shop and wareroom, and he probably supplied two brothers with seating furniture frames and other furniture. To date, no furniture documented to his shop is known except that included in this grouping, which, it is believed, he made for his own family’s use. The gift includes a substantial and important grouping of printed and archival materials that will be added to Winterthur Library’s rare book collection. In addition to books, such as Hancock’s personal copies of Hepplewhite’s The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide (1789), Robert Conner’s Cabinet Makers’ Assistant (1842), and several rare French titles, the group contains about 60 unbound design prints, many with penciled furniture designs and other notations. Hancock’s original designs for a lady’s secretary and for a French-style pier table round out the portfolio. In 1968 one descendant donated a selection of 83 unused brasses from the collection to the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2000, about 20 examples were donated to Winterthur. The latest gift greatly expands on that donation by including examples of brasses not included in the previous tranche, such as stamped, wood-filled boulle panels. Many are in their original wrappers. They offer otherwise-unobtainable information about materials, finishes, original appearances of exterior and interior surfaces, and methods of attachment, and the marked
wrappers give insight into handling and marketing. Most of the brasses appear to have been produced in Birmingham, England, and some are matched to a circa 1822 Birmingham brass trade catalog in the Winterthur Library. “They are pristine,” says Josh Lane, Lois F. and Henry S. McNeil Curator of Furniture. “They are as shiny as the day they were made.” Parts of the collection have been featured in exhibitions and publications, yet the accessibility Winterthur will provide and the attention it will bring to the collection are sure to spur scholarly interest and exhibition possibilities across the wider decorative arts and museum communities. The objects will prove invaluable in writing the larger history of Boston’s furnituremaking community before the Civil War. Brass rosette. Gift of Mrs. Marina J. Coneeny 2020.0025.013.015.030; bound collection of engraved and hand-colored French drapery and upholstered furniture designs, ca. 1830. Winterthur Library, Rare Book Collection. Gift of Mrs. Marina J. Coneeny
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