Step into the conservation and research laboratories of Winterthur Museum’s Research Building – enter almost any door – and you find an astonishing array of things that humans have created and collected, things that shed light on the human condition, on social interactions around the world and on the historical context that is foundational to making sense of life in all its grandeur and sorrow.
In one room alone, you can see objects crafted almost 2,500 years ago, a clownish-but-foreboding mask once used in Japanese theater, a curious 19th century aquarium-like structure complete with dangling fish figurines and tiny silk curtains, and the now-quaint 20th century circuitry of an early computer’s motherboard.
You see immediately the extraordinary reach a new $150,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will have for graduate students in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation. The NEH will add $25,000 more if the program raises that much support from other sources.
The grant buys something the world-class facilities cannot provide – a chance to focus.