Funds from national grant program will enhance Winterthur's study of Asian lacquer and enable digitization of museum's fine and decorative arts tools.

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library announced yesterday that it was awarded two grants totaling $282,010 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Granted through the nationally competitive Museums for America program, the funds will be used to deepen Winterthur's understanding of the treatment and analysis of Chinese export lacquer objects and to catalog and digitize its collection of fine and decorative arts tools.

Winterthur's projects were among the 244 selected nationally, representing nearly $30 million in funding. Awardees were selected from 707 applications through the highly competitive Museums for America and National Leadership Grants for Museums. Institutions receiving the awards are matching them with $35,243,683 in non-federal funds.

"Winterthur is committed to the responsible stewardship of our collections," said Dr. David Roselle, Winterthur Director. "We are proud to have received IMLS funding for these two important projects. They will enhance our capacity to preserve our collections at the highest level and enable us to share this information for the benefit of the entire cultural community."

Dr. Roselle will attend the Sept. 18 workshop and ceremony in Washington, D.C., that is designed for administrators at institutions whose proposals were funded.

"IMLS recognizes three valuable roles museums have in their communities: putting the learner at the center, serving as community anchors, and serving as stewards of cultural and scientific collections," said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. "It is exciting to see the many ways our newly announced grants further these important museum roles. I congratulate the slate of 2013 museum grant recipients for planning projects that advance innovation in museum practice, lifelong learning, and community engagement."

Of the two grants received, one totaling $133,810 will enable Winterthur to deepen its understanding of the treatment and analysis of Chinese export lacquer objects. A multidisciplinary team composed of Winterthur's conservators, scientists, and curators will work in conjunction with a lacquer conservator hired for the project in order to learn more about the process involved.

Using Winterthur's collection and relevant examples from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Peabody Essex Museum, the Winterthur Museum laboratory will undertake a major analytical project to characterize Chinese export lacquer to better inform treatment decisions and preventive care. Winterthur staff will use this acquired knowledge to continue analysis and stabilization techniques on more objects in its highly prized collection. They will ultimately share their insights with Winterthur/University of Delaware Art Conservation students, who, as graduates, will carry the deeper understanding to other institutions, helping to increase U.S. capacity and expertise in the treatment of Asian lacquer.

The second grant, totaling $148,200, will be used to catalog and digitize a portion of Winterthur's collection of 10,800 fine and decorative arts tools, used for making furniture, clocks, silver, glass, textiles, and ceramics. The museum will share this information with students in its graduate programs, visiting scholars and guests, and with worldwide audiences through Winterthur's website.

Longer-range stewardship includes developing publications, interpretation, and exhibits to share more complete understandings of these tools and implements within their contexts and historic craft practices, with the hope of ultimately serving as a model for museums and cultural organizations with similar tool collections.

The Museums for America grants support projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to address its key needs or challenges for better service to its community. The National Leadership Grants for Museums support projects that address critical needs of the museum field and that have the potential to advance practice in the profession so that museums can improve services for the American public.