Fellows, lectures, workshops, and visiting scholars
As students of material culture, my classmates and I benefit from access to Winterthur’s collections daily, but the rewards of working in a museum environment extend beyond the objects. The museum is a center for scholarly inquiry and exchange and as part of this it hosts numerous conferences and lectures each year. Academics and museum professionals come from all over to take part, presenting a great networking opportunity. Winterthur students can usually attend free of charge. Just this year, I participated in sessions ranging from a discussion with FBI agents on art theft to a lecture on furniture crafted from decommissioned ships in the nineteenth century.
The topics of these events are diverse and the opportunity to attend is a privilege. But one of the strengths of the program is the faculty’s commitment to familiarizing us with issues in the field beyond what shows up at the average Winterthur conference. To this end, the program hosts casual lunchtime discussions for students with guest speakers. We have talked about museum ethics, the nuances of working with trustees, and the future of cultural heritage institutions with a variety of museum professionals from Winterthur and elsewhere. Curators from the Chipstone Foundation demonstrated how they have experimented with decorative arts installation and interpretation in an art museum, provoking a great discussion about the future of this kind of display and how museums serve their audiences.
Winterthur is a wonderful and unique resource for its collections and its history, but it does not exist in a vacuum. The opportunities to connect with other professionals in the field have added tremendously to my time in the program.