The University of Delaware and the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library established the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture in 1952. Then known as the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture, it was the first graduate program dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of material culture and the decorative arts in the United States. The program continues to lead museum and academic scholarship, and graduates hold key positions in academic institutions, government, libraries, museums, and preservation organizations. In 2007, the Program's Executive Committee voted to adopt a new name to reflect the fact that students and faculty studied all periods of American cultural history, not just those deemed early.
The Program's commitment to excellence and its national and international reputation is amplified by a constellation of distinguished Departments, Programs and Faculty that make the University of Delaware the unparalleled center for the study of material culture in the United States. These include: The Departments of Anthropology, Art History, English, History, and the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation; the Center for Historic Architecture and Design, the Hagley Program, The Museum Studies Program, the Ph.D. Program in the History of American Civilization, and the Preservation Studies Program.
Material culture scholars study the history and philosophy of people and their things. The Winterthur Program's special niche is its emphasis on the interdisciplinary study of ideas, objects, and contexts using the extraordinary collections of the Winterthur Museum, and field-based study of landscapes, buildings, decorative arts, and design. No other program offers the same range of hands-on study of objects at either a Master's or Doctoral level.