Winterthur’s unparalleled collection of nearly 90,000 objects features decorative and fine arts made or used in America from 1630 to 1860. The collection is organized in several main categories— ceramics, glass, furniture, metalwork, paintings and prints, and textiles and needlework. Famous for its American artwork, the collection is amplified with objects from other regions of the world, illustrating the active role America played in the international market.
Winterthur’s founder, Henry Francis du Pont, formed the original collection for the museum and added to it until his death in 1969. Winterthur curators continue to fill gaps in the collection and to build upon its strengths. Acquisition choices are based, in part, upon the museum’s collecting policy. New objects join the collection through purchases using museum funds as well as tax-deductable contributions of objects, bequests, and donations.
Recent discoveries regarding objects are shared through publications, lectures, and conferences as well as house tours and displays in the Galleries. Some collections also are accessible via databases, virtual catalogues, and Web casts. Major donors to the collection enjoy additional access afforded by Collectors Circle membership. Winterthur Members and other visitors also are free to research their own objects in Winterthur’s excellent library.
In partnership with the University of Delaware, Winterthur offers prestigious masters degree programs in both American material culture and art conservation. Through hands-on courses and research, these programs shape and train future curators, conservators, and other museum professionals.
Books on Winterthur Collections (General)
Cooper, Wendy A. An American Vision: Henry Francis du Pont's Winterthur Museum. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art and Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 2002.
Eversmann, Pauline. The Winterthur Guide to Recognizing Styles: American Decorative Arts from the 17th to the 19th Centuries. Winterthur, Del.: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 2001.
Fennimore, Donald L., et al. Eye for Excellence: Masterworks from Winterthur. Winterthur, Del.: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1994.
Sweeney, John A. Winterthur Illustrated. New York: Chanticleer Press, 1963.
Museum Collections Division
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Winterthur, DE 19735
Winterthur Research Fellowships
Academic, independent, and museum scholars as well as advanced graduate students are invited to apply for short- and long-term residential, remote, and hybrid research fellowships. We welcome new and critical approaches to a broad range of scholarly topics and academic disciplines, including: material culture studies, social and cultural history, social justice, museum practice, art history, literary studies, American studies, design history, the decorative arts, landscape architecture and design, consumer culture, and conservation studies covering global topics from the 17th to the 20th centuries. We also support fellowships designed for artists, writers, filmmakers, horticulturists, craftspeople, and others who wish to examine, study, and immerse themselves in Winterthur's vast collections in order to inspire creative and artistic works for general, non-academic audiences.
Top Image: 1973.454.1,.2 Gift of Mrs. Harry W. Lunger; 1968.185, .186, .190, .192 Gift of Mr. Charles van Ravenswaay