Field-Based Learning

box house
Interior of a box house, pre 1891, Vernacular Architecture Forum’s Annual Meeting, Butte Montana, 2009.

Field-Based Learning is an important part of the Fellows' academic training. They take day trips to artisans’ shops, auction houses, collectors' homes, dealers, manufacturers, historic properties, and museums. Over the course of their two years of study in the Program, Fellows participate in approximately 100 organized visits to different institutions, historic sites, businesses, or private homes.

The first extended field experience occurs in January of the first year during the three-credit course on English Design History. It includes a two-week trip to London. As Fellows begin their second year, they have a week-long field trip in mid-June to the South, visiting locations such as Charleston, South Carolina; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Charlottesville, Virginia. Prior to the start of the fall semester, they travel to the New England region to visit places such as New Haven, Connecticut; Newport, Rhode Island; and Plymouth, Boston, New Bedford, or Salem, Massachusetts.

Second-year Fellows spend several days in New York City in January. They visit museums, meet staff associated with major auction houses, and attend many of the events associated with Americana Week. These trips offer detailed, behind-the-scenes learning experiences and help develop networking skills at a time when Fellows approaching graduation are beginning to think about employment.

Optional trips have included visits to The White House, The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, the Hudson Valley, Milwaukee, Mount Vernon, and Pittsburgh. These trips vary according to exhibition schedules, timing, and budget.

Fellows also take advantage of field based learning in their seminars, including those offered through the Winterthur Program and those taught in other academic Departments.

Finally, there is a modest amount of funding for Fellows to attend conferences such as the Vernacular Architecture Forum’s annual meeting or to give papers. These opportunities broaden Fellows’ training, with most of the costs paid for by the Program or via grants.

For student responses to some of these field experiences, see what’s happening in field study.



Winterthur Program in American Material Culture
field trip for silver study

Class of 2011 visits Ubaldo Vitale’s silversmith studio in Maplewood, New Jersey, 2010.