Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum (Winterthur, DE)


A baptismal certificate is decorated with stylized hearts, flowers, and calligraphic writing.

Birth and Baptismal certificate, made in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, 1798-1830, one of the items being catalogued by the Winterthur Museum. Photo courtesy of Winterthur Museum

Winterthur is the nation’s greatest surviving example of an American country estate.  Established on the estate in 1951 by Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur Museum houses the foremost collection of objects made or used in America between 1640 and 1860.  Visited annually by 203,000 people, the museum’s 85,000 objects are displayed over 175 period rooms and 35,000 square feet of galleries.  Along with the collections of furniture, architecture, textiles, paintings, metals, ceramics, glass, and works of arts on paper, the museum includes a comprehensive research library, an invaluable resource for information on early American material culture.

Winterthur is in the process of re-cataloguing its entire collection of 85,000 objects, many of which have never before been catalogued.  In FY 2005, the Winterthur Museum received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $40,000 to support the cataloguing of the 7,800 objects in two of the museum’s most-used collections: prints and paintings. 

Winterthur often is thought of as a decorative arts museum, yet its collection of prints and paintings is comprehensive, and regarded as one of the U.S.’s ten most significant collections of 18th- and 19th-century English and American prints.  Included in the collections are such varying works as watercolor sketches by John Lewis Krimmel, frakturs (illuminated folk art drawings) by the Pennsylvania Germans, and portrait paintings of historical American figures. The records, along with links to other objects in the collection and at other museums, were added to the Winterthur’s Web site, making the public’s access to this resource much more easy and efficient.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)