The Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library was originally opened to the public more than 60 years ago. The 1,000 acre preservation was originally the childhood home of esteemed collector and horticulturist, Henry Francis du Pont. The estate now contains a world-class museum, library, and gardens.
The Winterthur Estate is located in historic Wilmington, Delaware. The land has a 175-room mansion which houses one of the most celebrated collection of decorative arts, consisting of more than 90,000 objects which were made or used in America between 1630 and 1860.
Although the preservation is approximately 1,000 acres of picturesque meadows and woodlands, only 60 of those acres are maintained as naturistic gardens. There are also graduate and research programs actively going on at Winterthur, making it a prominent center of the study American history and culture.
The du Pont family no longer resides at the Winterthur mansion, but the original integrity of the building and its galleries remains intact as if they were still residing there. The original mission of the du Pont family was to foster education and appreciation of American culture in a natural and breath-taking atmosphere.
Before Henry Francis du Pont passed away, he wrote the following regarding his family's land:
"I sincerely hope that the Museum will be a continuing source of inspiration and education for all time, and that the gardens and grounds will of themselves be a country place museum where visitors may enjoy as I have, not only the flowers, trees and shrubs, but also the sunlit meadows, shady wood paths, and the peace and great calm of a country place which has been loved and taken care of for three generations."
Aplace of exceptional beauty, lasting education, and beloved history is sure to delight visitors of all ages at the Winterthur Estate.
The gardens and surrounding landscapes are maintained for both scientific and artistic purposes. Researchers use this land to study, understand, and preserve some of America's most important and beautiful natural resources. The artistic landscape and all of its decorative components are maintained as a cultural collection.
There is a large variety of plants on this preservation, currently, there are more than 7,500 living plants in Winterthur's collection. Some highlights of the garden's collection include many species of Rhododendrons, Chaenomeles, Lilies, and Narcissus.
The Winterthur collection is so vast that their website has an electronic plant database to simplify visitor's experience. There is the Yearly Bloom Calendar, a tradition started by Henry du Pont himself. Visitors can anticipate what flowers and plants will be in bloom before planning their visit. There are specialized and seasonal plant combinations, some of the seasonal favorites include the Summer Color in the Garden and the Fall Color in the Garden. Visitors can explore and learn more about the gardens through the Winterthur Garden Blog, there is plenty of new information about the gardens weekly.
There is a peaceful, paved walkway called the "March Walk" where visitors can explore the beautiful surrounding woodlands. The maintenance of the gardens relies heavily on donations from community members. If someone is willing to donate, they can have a bench or tree placed in their name so show Winterthur Estate's appreciation.
There are more than 90,000 pieces in the Winterthur Estate's decorative and fine arts collection. All of the pieces represent American culture from 1630 to 1860 and include categories like: ceramics, glass, furniture, metalwork, paintings and prints, and textiles and needlework.
Many of these pieces are standard American décor, but some of the most interesting pieces can be found in the Recent Discoveries category. Researchers are continuously attempting to find new information on pieces housed in Winterthur's collection. All sorts of exciting and interesting facts have been discovered over the years.
The New Acquisitions collection features all of the newest additions to the Winterthur Estate's collection. Some of the newest pieces include ceramics from 17th century England, a large chest from the Eastern shore of Virgina, dating from the late 16th century. These pieces and any more are being added to the collection quite frequently.
The original collection was started by founder Henry du Pont and he continued to add to it until his death in 1969. Thanks to generous donors and purchasing funds, new items are added to collection regularly.
There are various lectures, workshops, tours, galleries, online databases, and conferences at Winterthur, all with the mission of promoting education and cultural appreciation. Winterthur even offers two different Master's Degree programs (American material culture and art conservation) in partnership with the University of Delaware.
There have also been major works written about Winterthur including An American Vision: Henry Francis du Pont's Winterthur Museum, The Winterthur Guide to Recognizing Styles: American Decorative Arts from the 17th to the 19th Centuries, and Eye for Excellence: Masterworks from Winterthur. These are a few from the general collection of works regarding Winterthur, there are many more books available.
If the 120,000 volumes of books, periodicals, manuscripts, archives, and visual resources aren't enough to astound guests of the Winterthur Estate, maybe the breath-taking architecture will. With cast-iron spiral staircases, arched doorways, and intricate wood-work, the library is truly a work of art by itself.
There are 20,000 rare American and European works and 100,000 open volumes near the reading room. The collection focuses on the material culture and everyday life in America from the 17th century to the early 20th.
Needless to say, there is never a shortage of new books to read or intriguing things to learn in the Winterthur Estate Library. All while experiencing the gorgeous and intricate surroundings of a time gone by.
The Winterthur Estate takes the conservation of the decorative and fine arts very seriously. The dedicated staff even hosts a conservation clinic in order to educate the public on proper care and life-long maintenance of their house-hold pieces.
From the scientific research and analysis lab to the lighting and design coordination of the artwork, conservation is a very important aspect of everyday life at Winterthur.
There are a variety of touring options at Winterthur, as well as many different events and programs happening daily. Between the museum inside the 175-room mansion, which contains 90,000 pieces from American history, the library which contains more than 120,000 volumes, the 60-acre naturalistic garden, and the hundreds of remaining acres of endless woodlands and meadows, there is almost too much to see!
The Winterthur Estate has multiple recommended itineraries, including a two-hour visit, a four-hour visit, a family visit, a day visit, and an extended visit. Each offers various perks like educational experiences, personalized tours, and even scenic picnics. There are also horse-drawn carriages riding around the estate for guests to enjoy.
There are even options for hosting fine dinners, weddings, and corporate entertainment at the Winterthur Estate. The surrounding Wilmington, Delaware area is a lovely portrait of early-America. Wilmington is a bustling town filled with great music, food, and attractions.
5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Delaware 19735, Phone: 800-448-3883