Object Collections

breast pump
Breast pump, lead glass, ca. 1790-1830. Courtesy Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. Breast pump 1977.0112. Museum purchase

Henry Francis du Pont collected antiques to furnish his Estate with period settings. Like other great collectors active in the middle decades of the twentieth century, he had an eye for quality, considerable financial resources, and talented advisors. His collections and interior designs were highly influential during his lifetime and remain so because the colonial revival style is a remarkably flexible way for mixing the aesthetic values of different eras.

Now numbering more than 85,000 objects, the object collections cover the 220 years between 1640 and 1860. Study collections, developed for teaching, include selected examples of the arts and crafts movement and twentieth-century design.

Although the Winterthur object collections are well known for masterworks of architecture, ceramics, furniture, glass, metals, and textiles, there are also many everyday objects that represent the lives of ordinary people—things as carefully designed and fabricated as this carved mahogany table leg with gilt decoration, and as rare as this eighteenth-century breast pump used by nursing mothers. While the majority of the collection’s wooden objects and a high proportion of the silver were made in America, most of the textiles, refined ceramics, and metals were imported from Europe and Asia.

All Fellows work in the Museum collections as part of their course work. Fellows can study the object collections for months and find something new to look at or think about every time they enter the period or study rooms.

For more information about the collections, please look at the Museum’s collection web site.



Winterthur Program in American Material Culture

Detail carved leg, mahogany with gilt decoration, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1825-1830. Courtesy, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. 1986.0004. Museum purchase