The Study Trips Abroad Program

The Study Trips Abroad program was championed by Trust Governor Helen Scott Reed and stands as one of many pivotal accomplishments during the long and successful partnership of Jonathan Fairbanks and Penny Hunt as president and director. While a mainstay of the Trust’s annual calendar today, the concept was not universally applauded when first introduced. Discussions began in 1995 over the objections of distinguished Winterthur curator emeritus John A.H. Sweeney, then Vice President of the Board of Governors, who encouraged the Trust to focus solely on domestic programming.

At the time, Helen Scott was also on the board of the Center for Palladian Studies, led by Italian expat Mario di Valmarana (1909-2010), professor of architecture at the University of Virginia. The two organizations cobbled the first two trips together as a collaborative effort, ostensibly to understand the European sources for American arts and architecture in the Veneto, from where Professor Valmarana’s harkened, and then Ireland. Mr. Sweeney was even offered a complimentary trip, which he declined!

The Trust’s membership soon supported the programs alone, and we strayed from a rigid focus on Americana to include garden design, musical performances, factory tours, wine, and gourmet food! Thanks to our wonderful English facilitators, Specialtours, and our academic connections, we have met fascinating curators, learned collectors, and the gracious owners of private houses, castles, conservation studios, workshops, and palaces. While the Trust has explored many well-traveled destinations, we have also endeavored to tackle harder-to-reach locales in Eastern Europe too, which have been an especially rewarding effort, particularly Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Estonia.

In 2014, the program expanded to two destinations per year, which have typically required multiple tours, and we will bump up to three in 2018. The Study Trips Abroad have offered education, excitement, and entertainment, and we have all enjoyed learning together with many smart and interesting friends and colleagues.

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