Curatorial Internship and Failey Grants Awarded for 2019

The Education Committee of the Trust’s Board of Governors received a bevy of compelling proposals this fall for the Curatorial Internship and Failey Grant programs. The following institutions were selected:

Curatorial Internship Grants

Each fall the Trust chooses a new partner for a two-year curatorial internship, our flagship grant within the Emerging Scholars Program. The competition was fierce this season, and the Committee felt compelled to increase the amount of allocated funding to award one full and a second partial internship grant. The Trust’s support is matched by the host organization to cover the intern’s salary.

William King Museum of Art, Abingdon, VA: This digital humanities internship is the culmination of 25 years of research growing out of the Museum’s Cultural Heritage Project, which began in 1994 with direct funding by the National Endowment for the Arts for a first-time survey of nine counties in far Southwest Virginia and six counties across the border in Tennessee. Many parts of this area are isolated, mountainous and remote; its material culture locked away within family keeping as a largely unknown treasure. The survey fostered a full and accurate appreciation for the region’s role in American decorative arts. The importance of this internship cannot be overstated as it supports the valuable role the Museum continues to serve in the region. Working with Betsy White, the Museum’s director, the intern will enhance and promote the Archive by: conducting original fieldwork on the material culture and decorative arts of the area; publishing research in academic and popular publications; providing service to the community through lectures and courses on Appalachian history, decorative arts, and digital humanities; working with curatorial staff to conceptualize, design, and execute an exhibit for display and an online component that showcase the objects documented in the Archive; and authoring encyclopedic entries on Southwest Virginia for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities’ Encyclopedia Virginia.

Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga, NY: The intern was sought for a broad-based project to conduct research, process artifacts, and develop exhibition plans related to the Pavilion, built as the private residence of William Ferris Pell, who purchased the military site in 1820 before embarking on one of first preservation efforts in American history. With a renewed focus on the site’s layered legacy, Fort Ticonderoga seeks to explore and illuminate the broader history of the people that occupied the site. Central to this new emphasis is the restoration of the Pavilion, an early example of an American country house built between 1826 and 1837. Under the supervision of Fort Ticonderoga’s curator, Matthew Keagle, the intern will delve into the decorative and fine arts housed in the Pavilion. In addition to providing content for permanent and changing exhibitions, the candidate will assist with the essential process of formally accessioning the collection by cataloguing, housing, and photographing each object. With the reopening of the Pavilion scheduled for 2020, the intern will have the opportunity to participate in the full breadth of the project and play a pivotal role in bringing this site and collection to light.

Failey Grants

The Failey Grant program provides support for noteworthy research, exhibition, publication, and conservation projects through the Dean F. Failey Fund, named in honor of the Trust’s late Governor. Preference is given to projects that employ or are led by young professionals in the museum field. The Committee faced a similar challenge while reviewing proposals this fall and elected to raise the level of funding to provide one full and a second partial grant.

Digital Furniture Workshop, Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, DE: Conversations with representatives of the British and Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO) initiative led to a recognition that institutions have developed innovative digital projects focused on furniture, and decorative arts more broadly, largely in isolation. Individuals involved in these projects may consult one another from time to time, but there has never been an occasion for a focused discussion, problem-solving, and planning for potential future projects. Under the auspices of Winterthur’s Academic Programs department and the Boston Furniture Archive (see the Fall 2014 Issue of the Trust’s Magazine), 25 representatives from a variety of institutions with prospective, planned, and ongoing projects will gather at Winterthur on January 10–11, 2019, to discuss initiatives in the digital humanities, including best practices and potential for cooperation for further research on furniture and furniture makers. Winterthur will publish a white paper summarizing the discussions and findings as a free online publication. Among the attendees will be the Decorative Arts Trust’s curatorial intern from the William King Museum (see above). A grant from the Trust will cover a portion of the costs of the workshop and dissemination of its findings, enabling the inclusion of smaller scale or less established projects and institutions.

Exhibition, Boscobel House and Gardens, Garrison, NY: This project focuses on decorative arts with landscape decoration made or available in New York in the early 19th century. New Yorkers of this era sought landscapes not only in paintings and prints, but also on a broad variety of decorative arts. When assembled in a domestic setting, scenic furnishings provided a decorative panorama meant to entertain, impress, and educate viewers. Boscobel is a historic house museum whose mission is to preserve and celebrate Hudson Valley design, history, and nature, through a collection that includes landscape imagery in prints ceramics, mirrors, bandboxes, and more. The theme is particularly appropriate for an exhibition at Boscobel because of its iconic Hudson River site, as well as a Coalport dessert service acquired by the house’s first owner, States Dyckman, that features hand-painted British landscapes after JMW Turner and other sources. The exhibition will open in 2020 or 2021 and is tentatively titled Vistas Within: Landscape Imagery in New York Interiors, 1800–1830. The Trust’s grant will fund a freelance researcher to analyze relevant decorative arts under consideration for this project.

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