A Winterthur Grad Goes to Work in York, England

Rosemary Krill works with students in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, researchers in the Research Fellowship Program, and the staff of Winterthur’s scholarly journal Winterthur Portfolio.

Louisa Brouwer at Fairfax House, York, England

Louisa Brouwer, who graduated with a master’s degree in May, 2011, from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, crossed the Atlantic to take her first post-graduate museum job. She is spending a year at Fairfax House in York, England, as the curatorial intern. Louisa discovered that she loved England during a college junior year abroad at the University of Warwick, and she chose a master’s thesis topic with connections to London. She wrote about the 18th-century London luxury goods retailer, Susannah Passavant, whose customers included George and Martha Washington.

Three organizations collaborated to make this internship happen. Winterthur Professor of Decorative Arts Brock Jobe worked with the Decorative Arts Trust, and Fairfax House Director Hannah Phillip to craft the job description and find funding for the position. Brock, Hannah, and Louisa forged a successful path through the requirements for a special visa. Finally, in August, Louisa arrived in York.

Here’s her initial report:

A quick update from across the Atlantic! Here are a few exciting bits of news from my first week at Fairfax House in York. So far the job has been going ‘famously,’ as they say over here, and I’m already fitting in well and getting my hands dirty with some good projects. My first week has included cataloguing the museum’s collection of 16th- to 19th-century books in the library; writing object and condition reports; touring the house; and meeting the board and other important figures at Fairfax. The main projects I’ll be working on over the next year will include a collections audit of the museum’s holdings, researching a new furnishing plan, and helping prepare for an upcoming exhibition on the Jacobite rebellion.

Thanks to Hannah Phillip, I’ve had two separate interviews with the York press. Luckily these articles are online, so you can access them easily here:

Article one is from the York Press. Article two (more in-depth) is in the York Post.

I’ve attached a fun photo of me in the offices wearing Georgian costume, which I donned as part of a special event at the museum. The nice thing about working in a small institution is that everyone has to participate in special events, even if it means dressing up like an 18th-century lady!

Louisa doesn’t always wear an 18th-century dress on the job, but she did get to wear one for the York Food & Drink Festival. (Louisa is second from the right in the photo on the Web page.)

View of Fairfax House,courtesy of Fairfax House (http://www.fairfaxhouse.co.uk/)

Fairfax House is one of the finest Georgian townhouses in England. Although it was used in the 20th century for community entertainment—showing films and hosting dances—the house was preserved by the York Civic Trust in the 1980s and re-opened to the public as a museum in 1984.

Louisa came to the Winterthur Program, which is co-sponsored by the University of Delaware, in August, 2009. A native of southern Wisconsin, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with honors in Art History. After college, she worked as the director of installation for four student-run art galleries, while interning as the development associate at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

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