The Wonder of Winterthur
BY MARILYN MACGREGOR
Education is another aspect at the fore here. “Our most important mission is to continue Mr. du Pont’s vision of Winterthur as a teaching institution,” says Lidz. In 1952, one year after the public opening, he instituted a program of instruction in American Material Culture, calling it “the best way to keep Winterthur alive.” From this initial step, two prestigious curatorial degree programs, in association with the University of Delaware, now produce experts for every leading museum in the country. Equally prestigious is a conservation degree program begun in 1974, filling a need in the US for scientifically trained experts in analysis and conservation of historical objects. Winterthur’s role in this field often extends well beyond the United States: For instance, Lois Olcott Price, director of conservation, has been working with Iraqi professionals at a US-funded institute for the past three years, helping them reclaim and conserve their national heritage. “Iraq has a great store of treasures, but the country has been isolated,” says Price. “Among other things, we are helping them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in the area of conservation.”
It is a safe bet that du Pont would be thrilled to see how Winterthur is thriving, its “guests” remarkably well provided for. He would enjoy the 26 rooms that remain frozen, just as he arranged them, but he would also be pleased by the much-needed changes. He would be especially tickled to find that fresh flowers are still placed in each of the rooms. “We cannot match his profusion,” says Lidz. “Mr. du Pont had as many as 25 arrangements for a single room, carefully planned by type and color, making the entire room a bouquet. But we do come as close to his style as possible.” The fresh flowers may seem a small part of the overall picture, but they are as essential as the broad fields, one more way that the outside and the inside of Winterthur work together to continue Mr. du Pont’s vision of a harmonious, historical whole.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF WINTERTHUR; Jim Schneck (silver); Jeanette Lindvi