Winterthur, with its world-class conservation labs and its
partnerships with UD in art conservation and material culture studies,
was “a great choice” to host one of this year’s workshops, she said. The
group was able to see how scientific instruments are used to analyze
the chemical composition of materials such as enamels and help re-create
an object’s history.
“The opportunity for the students to see conservation techniques is a
special benefit,” Micklewright said. “And the close collaboration
between the University and Winterthur is another huge bonus.”
This session of the workshop series focused on Chinese “export objects” made between the late 17th and early 20th centuries.
The subject of Chinese objects is important, especially considering
China’s enormous production of material objects in its over 5,000 years
of history, Rujivacharakul said. But, she said, objects from China have
been understudied and often excluded from the mainstream history of
Chinese art, as they are typically considered more as commodities or
But those Chinese export objects were also prized by collectors
around the world, and they make up the majority of objects collected
from China until the beginning of the 20th century.
Leading the workshop with Rujivacharakul was Robert Mintz, deputy
director of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. They were joined by
members of Winterthur’s staff: Catharine Dann Roeber, Catherine Matsen,
Gregory J. Landrey, Leslie Grigsby, Josh Lane and Linda Eaton, together
with Ron Fuchs II from Washington and Lee University, a 1996 alumnus of
UD’s graduate Winterthur Program in American Material Culture.
Students, who competed for selection to participate in the workshop,
came from the universities of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Chicago,
California at Berkeley, Manchester and Amsterdam and from Princeton and
Arizona State universities.
About the workshop partners
The Freer|Sackler, which
administer the Chinese Object Study Workshop series, are the Smithsonian
Institution’s museums of Asian art, with two gallery buildings
physically connected by an underground passage.
Since the series began in 2013, workshops have been held at some of
the top U.S. museums that are known for their Asian art collections. The
Freer|Sackler and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have each hosted two
workshops, and the second session this year will be held in August at
the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
The workshop series is funded by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, whose mission is to strengthen and promote the humanities and the arts.
Winterthur Museum, known as the
premier museum of American decorative arts, also has significant
collections of Chinese export objects. The object study workshop,
Rujivacharakul said, also gave participants the opportunity to broaden
their knowledge of Winterthur.
Article by Ann Manser; photos by Evan Krape