layers of bedding
Studying the senses: Bed and bedding layers, Winterthur Galleries. Courtesy Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. Photo by Jim Schneck.

We believe that the best material culture scholarship merges an intensive curiosity about objects, theory, and context. Our approach is also grounded in the proposition that objects have answers to big questions: Why do things look the way they do? How did they get that way? What do they mean? Whether looking at the carving on chimneypieces, the field patterns of a landscape, the form of a house, the structure of beds and bedding, or British printed textiles imported into Brazil, we train our students to understand and synthesize the complex details of human enterprise and art.

Our curriculum reflects that belief by supporting multidisciplinary approaches to the study of material culture and encouraging student initiative. Our title reflects the Program’s focus on America, but the world continues to shape our neighborhoods and nation through immigration, importation and exchange. That understanding has broad applications for public humanities and policy. The Executive Committee of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, comprised of faculty and staff from the Museum and the University, regularly evaluates the curriculum. Our focus helps Fellows develop a form of material literacy, understand people and objects in differing contexts, integrate research and communication skills, and explore a wide range of professional and practical skills.

Fellows acquire this knowledge via:



Winterthur Program in American Material Culture

Studying buildings and landscapes: Eighteenth-century casement windows, Department of Archaeological Research, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Virginia, March 2010 (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).