Winterthur Things to Do

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Best Rated Things to Do in Winterthur

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    The Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens

    by tpangelinan Updated Sep 24, 2003

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    These are some beautiful Antique Soup Tureens in many diferent shapes and sizes. The coleection started in 1966 through the inspiration of the late John T. Dorrance Jr. The first purchase was an American silver tureen with the coat of arms of George Washington. During the next few years the number grew to include ceramic and precious metals from around the world.

    Solid Gold
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    Wonderful Suprise

    by tpangelinan Updated Sep 24, 2003

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    At the top you are rewarded with a great view of the reflecting pool! In 1929 Henry Francis DuPont planned a major enlargement of the house and gardens. He commisioned his lifelong friend, Landscape Architect Marian Coffin, to design the garden. Coffin was inspired symmetry, proportions & architectural features of Italian Renaissance gardens.

    View of the Reflecting Pool off East Terrace
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    Many great fountains!

    by tpangelinan Updated Sep 25, 2003

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    Al the gardens are full of beautiful European fountains and statues. Take a walk through the many gardens and enjoy the wonderful flowers and nature. Just off to the left of the Reflecting Pool is the Enchanted Woods for the kids, many things to keep them busy while you rest!

    Fountains
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    For Downton Abbey Devotees Only

    by starship Updated Oct 7, 2014

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    "This exhibition celebrates the costumes of Downton Abbey and invites you to compare the British lifestyle of the fictional Downton Abbey with that of the real-life American Winterthur estate."
    ~ Winterthur Museum

    The fascination audiences have for the PBS series "Downton Abbey" may never be articulated well enough to explain it to those who don't feel the same enthusiasm for the story. However, the sheer numbers of people who have watched it passionately for 4 seasons now have created what has been called a 'global phenomenon.' Lest you think that Downton Abbey appeals only to women, let me state here it is simply not the case!

    As mentioned previously, I had wanted to visit Winterthur for some time. My daughter and I had already fit in tours of the gardens and Winterthur house museum in the morning, and had the necessary 1pm timed ticket for this special exhibit. From the house museum we just walked across the lobby area into the exhibit hall and thereby entered the world of the Crawley family and Lord Grantham of the fictional Downton Abbey.

    The exhibit was very well done in terms of presentation, lighting, variety and selection of costumes shown, music, audio and peripheral props. Visitors were able to view the costumes in fairly close proximity and each set of costumes was presented in front of an interesting backdrop with a photo of a particular episode/scene. Sometimes the costumes were accompanied by a placard with a memorable quote from a character. The most memorable costumes were taken from particularly poignant scenes such as when the character Matthew Crawley finally proposed to Lady Mary in the nighttime glow of the Abbey while glimmering snowflakes fell about them. Such special costumes were often accompanied by a video of the scene and music.

    For my own part, I believe that it would have been interesting to point out how the cultural history at the time influenced clothing for women and also that the similarities or dissimilarities between the fictional Downton Abbey and the real-life Winterthur could have been more strongly drawn if perhaps counterparts from Winterthur's own inhabitants were available.

    Admission to this exhibit was included in the price of the general admission ticket ($20 adults); Child (2–11) - $5; Infant (under 2) - Free; Senior (62) - $18; Student (with valid ID) - $18.

    I could have wandered about this exhibit much longer but we spent somewhat over an hour here including a visit to the gift shop near the exit of the exhibit. There was a good selection of Downton Abbey - inspired jewelry that I liked but my son had given me a necklace from that collection for Christmas. Unfortunately, the rest of the gift selection was quite slim and overpriced so the only item I purchased was a CD of the Downton Abbey musical soundtrack ($21.99) and was given some complimentary Downton Abbey/Winterthur bookmarks. This being the case, before returning to the Visitor Center by shuttle bus, we took the very short walk to the Museum Store just across the driveway.

    Edith Crawley's ill-fated wedding dress Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley's costumes

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    Henry Francis du Pont's Gardens

    by starship Updated Oct 7, 2014

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    Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969) might be considered a 20th century "Renaissance man." He was born at Winterthur and, by his own admission, "always loved everything connected with it." Winterthur was his life's work. Again I find myself relating Winterthur and Mr. du Pont's personal sentiments about it to the fictional character of Lord Grantham, Robert Crawley, in the Downton Abbey series when he speaks of his own feelings for Downton and that it has been his life's work.

    Among his many other talents, Mr. H.F. du Pont was a keen horticulturalist and had traveled to visit many European gardens before the advent of World War I.

    Winterthur's Garden was actually a collaboration of his design along with landscape architect and friend, Marian Coffin. Henry's plan and selection of plantings succeeded in enhancing the naturalistic or "wild" rather than limiting the garden by formality. His idea of choosing what to plant and where to plant it resulted in providing every season with color from late January through November.

    Over a period of years, the garden came to include: the eight-acre Azalea Woods (1917), the March Bank (1902), Magnolia Bend, the Pinetum (1918), Winterhazel Area (1923), Sundial Garden (1956), Peony Garden (1946), Reflecting Pool and Glade Garden (1929), Quarry Garden (1962), and Enchanted Woods (2001) --- a children’s gardens of 3 acres which has no less than 12 unique elements for children to explore.

    On our tour we saw most of these areas although it was difficult to get photos because the tram never stopped for very long and when it did, it seemed always to be in a shady area. The rolling pastures and fields were beautiful as were the many specimen trees on the property, but our garden rambling only scratched the surface of the landscape at Winterthur during the 30 - 40 minute tour.

    Personally, I love gardening, landscapes and landscape design and try to visit impressive gardens when traveling. I have seen the work of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822 – 1903) considered the father of American landscape architecture, as well as several works of "Capability" Brown (1715–1783), "England's greatest gardener." Along with last year's visit to the impressive Gibbs Gardens in Georgia, and Butchart Gardens among others, now I can add Mr. Henry Francis du Pont's work at Winterthur to that list of landscaped gardens I've seen most recently.

    Many people prefer to walk the pathways and small roads which wind through the gardens; however, being on somewhat of a schedule, we preferred to take the open-air tram and guided tour which was available. Exit the Visitor Center to the right of the Service desk where you will see the looped driveway and the waiting trams which are free of additional charge.

    Before moving on to the house museum, it's worth mentioning the Winterthur Library, a very different library.

    Postcard of Fairie Cottage in Enchanted Woods

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    A Library to Love

    by starship Updated Oct 7, 2014

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    The Winterthur Library is most probably overlooked by everyday visitors. My daughter and I did not have time to see it either which is a shame because I love libraries --- that is to say I love good libraries that also have loads of physical charm.

    Established in 1952 by Mr. Henry Francis du Pont , the Winterthur Library's mission is to provide staff, students, and the general public with a resource for research on American decorative arts. Mr. du Pont intended it to be dedicated to the "understanding and appreciation of America's artistic, cultural, social, and intellectual history from colonial times into the twentieth century." It has succeeded brilliantly and is a recognized research center.

    The "Collection of Printed Books and Periodicals" lists more than 100,000 volumes in open stacks adjacent to the main reading room and about 20,000 rare American and European imprints in closed stacks. The collection, is extraordinary in its unique focus -- "the documentation of American household goods and their use, decorative arts and design, and the material culture of everyday life in America from the 17th through the early 20th centuries."

    The Library's description of its holdings include the following: the "rare books are particularly strong in architecture and design books; travel narratives; American painting and graphics; children's books; descriptions of craft techniques; women's magazines and the literature of domestic economy and etiquette; periodicals that promote or describe lifestyles; and city directories and guidebooks. A sizable portion of the rare book collection offers insights into the European antecedents that informed American taste and design. American and British manufacturers' and retailers' trade catalogs provide an invaluable record of product designs, technological developments, and marketing strategies." I admit a fondness for much that could be found in this library and I imagine the applications for research would reach farther than we imagine.

    The library is located in the "Louise du Pont Crowninshield Research Building," and is open to the public without appointment or charge. Hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm; closed on legal holidays.

    As you might expect from any good research institution, Winterthur Library offers short- and long-term fellowships applicable to a variety of related subjects at Winterthur. Applications are due in January, and awards are announced in April. For detailed information, see: http://www.winterthur.org/pdfs/Fellowship-Brochure-2010.pdf

    Overnight lodging is available for a modest fee at Winterthur's Visiting Scholars Residence. For details, contact Facilities Services Division at 302.888.4753.

    Next we traveled on the free shuttlebus leaving from the Visitor Center for our 1pm tour of the Winterthur House Museum .

    Image courtesy of Winterthur Library website

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    An Unselfish Act: The Winterthur Museum

    by starship Updated Oct 7, 2014

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    In 1837, Jacques Antoine Bidermann, and his wife, Evelina, a daughter of E. I. du Pont, began the construction of a 12-room house they would name "Winterthur" after Mr. Bidermann's ancestral home in Switzerland. Although quite large for its day in 1837, Winterthur would grow even larger and eventually be expanded to include 175 rooms! Today Winterthur consists of many additions, numerous floor levels, and is filled with American antique furniture, textiles, ceramics, glass, art and more.

    In the 1920s, Mr. H. F. du Pont, had become an astute collector of American-made decorative and fine arts as well as American architectural (1640 to 1860) pieces, and he and his family lived and entertained in this setting. His interests interests in, and love for his collections led him to share his home with the public when he opened the "Winterthur Museum, Gardens and Library" in 1951. It was his great desire to share all this with the country and "show America as it had been." To put his collection in the proper perspectives, he created numerous period settings as the backdrop for his collections and they are quite phenomenal.

    He may be considered once of the first persons to engage in architectural salvage from previous structures. He incorporated these pieces into his home. For example, the "Montmorenci Stair Hall" on the 5th Floor which was salvaged from a 19th-century North Carolina home. "Shop Lane," an incredible recreation of a street of shops, including store window displays each featuring a special collection such as ceramics or silver, was assembled using salvaged architectural elements and relocating them to his home to create the effect. The Chinese Parlor Room's walls are covered in vintage Chinese 1770's wallpaper and the room was constructed so that its size was a perfect fit for the use of this wall covering. There's so much more to explore in the house museum and galleries that it is not possible to mention it all.

    Our 1 p.m. timed ticket took us on a guided "Introductory Tour" of floors 1, 5 & 6 only, but considering the number of rooms on each floor, and the number of objects to see and learn about, it still commanded a full hour but could have been much longer. Our tour guide was not only incredibly knowledgeable about Mr. du Pont and the collections but he was also personally enthusiastic about his appreciation for the man and what he accomplished. I admit one downfall of this museum was the absence of detailed maps or handouts which would have helped tremendously in trying to recount these surroundings for memory. And, it would have been particularly interesting given the current special "Costumes of Downton Abbey," if some printed material would have actually drawn comparisons between Winterthur, the du Pont family, their way of life and culture, and expectations of the staff versus that of the great houses of England and Scotland

    Different tours of the house museum floors, gardens, and galleries can be arranged by calling 800.448.3883 or emailing tourinfo@winterthur.org for more information. A special "Yuletide" 1-hour tour allows visitors to experience traditions of the past on Floors 1, 4 & 5 while the house is decorated especially for the holidays (ticket prices are increased at this time only).

    All reservations and tour tickets can be purchased online or by phone by calling 800.448.3883 or 302.888.4600. General Admission tickets include viewing of special exhibitions.

    Museum and Garden:
    Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm
    Last tour tickets sold at 3:15 pm. Last tour is at 3:30 pm.
    Closed Mondays (except during Yuletide), Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day

    Library:
    Monday–Friday, 8:30 am–4:30 pm
    Closed holiday Mondays

    Although I loved the guided tour of the house museum, my distinct reason for wanting to visit Winterthur was for the special exhibition of the "Costumes of Downton Abbey."

    ~Postcard of Winterthur ~ My Photo ~ The Chinese Parlor My Photo ~ Montmorenci Stair Hall My Photo ~ President George Washington's china Postcard of the
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    Winterthur's Visitor's Center

    by starship Updated Sep 17, 2014

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    Your visit to Winterthur begins with the Visitor's Center. A short walk from the parking lots, this building is where you will find the Visitor Services desk, information & maps, Garden Café, a gift shop, and clean restrooms. From here you will take a shuttle for a tour of the gardens or a shuttle to the house museum and exhibitions, but you may also walk the grounds yourself.

    Although online advance purchase of tickets would be highly recommended, it may be especially necessary for the duration of popular exhibits such as "The Costumes of Downton Abbey," and also on special occasion days such as Mother's Day. If you purchase tickets by phone or online, bring along your printed confirmation and a ticket(s) must be picked up at the Visitor's Center. Tickets/reservations may also be made in person at the Visitor Services desk in the Visitor's Center. Tickets for tours of the house museum, as well as for special exhibits are timed to avoid crowding.

    Ticket pricing information -- General admission tickets include admission to the gardens and grounds, all museum galleries and special exhibitions including the current "Costumes of Downton Abbey," a 45-minute guided house tour* (subject to availability) and a 30-minute garden tram tour (weather permitting).

    2014 Prices -- Adult -$20; Child (2–11) - $5; Infant (under 2) - Free; Senior (62) - $18;
    Student (with valid ID) - $18

    *Effective November 22, 2014, ticket prices will increase during Yuletide (November 22, 2014–January 4, 2015), but will return to the regular pricing in spring 2015. As always, Members are free.

    NOTE: 2014 Yuletide Pricing
    Member - Free; Adult - $25; Child (2–11) - $5; Infant (under 2) - Free; Senior (62) - $23;
    Student (with valid ID) - $23

    Parking is free.

    Hours:
    Museum and Garden -
    Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm
    Last tour tickets sold at 3:15 pm. Last tour is at 3:30 pm.
    Closed Mondays (except during Yuletide), Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day
    Library -
    Monday–Friday, 8:30 am–4:30 pm
    Closed holiday Mondays

    The timing of our visit worked perfectly. Our house museum tour was scheduled for 1pm and our tea for 3pm. Since we arrived about 11:30am, we were able to catch the narrated garden-tram ride. Discovering the highlights of the gardens, or at least a portion of them, and learning a bit about the history of the estate before moving on to the house museum and exhibition was an excellent beginning.

    Visitor's Center Garden Cafe
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    Gardens at Winterthur

    by grandmaR Updated Jun 8, 2007

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    Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) was quite a gardener, and he might have still been alive when I visited Winterthur in the spring and summer of 1969.

    As a young man, he had taken classes at the Arnold Arboretum and he planted his first narcissus bulbs at Winterthur in 1902. He worked with MIT-trained landscape architect Marian Coffin on nearly 70 acres of gardens and a model 2400-acre farm.

    Although I didn't take any of the tours, I did walk around the gardens at lunch between house tours. The gardens really impressed me because they were in natural settings with a succession of bloom which I have tried to emulate at my own home, of course on a much restricted budget, with a lot less space than Winterthur's 982 acres.

    Additional pictures and text are in the travelogue.

    Museum & Garden 10 am-5 pm, Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Mondays (except holidays), Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day

    One of the garden tours is:
    * The Lyrical Landscape*: (April-June, Saturdays & Sundays): Enjoy a guided walk through the blooming landscape and learn about Henry Francis du Pont's secrets of naturalistic garden design and detail.

    Adults, $20, students/seniors (age 62+), $18 .

    Reflection of the bridge 1969 Wooden footbridge over a stream Daylilies on a slope above pond and dam Blue berries Smokebush near cafeteria
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    Museum at Winterthur

    by grandmaR Updated Oct 7, 2005

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    In 1969 when we were living in Philadelphia, my family (including at least 2 children under 8) visited Winterthur and did the family accessible section of the museum.

    I remember that we saw four or five rooms similar to the ones that I saw later in the main museum. I think this would have been something similar to

    # Gracious Living: View American furnishings from the 1600s to the 1800s in rooms designed by H. F. du Pont.

    New is the Once Upon a Family Tour: Tuesday-Sunday, 12:30pm. Learn about the lifestyle of the du Pont family while exploring period rooms and garden spaces where they played, worked, and entertained. - designed especially for families with children age 4–12

    Family-friendly tours are open to all ages. Adults, $20; students/seniors (age 62+), $18
    .
    Then I called and made reservations to come back by myself (my sister babysat my kids for me) to take two of the Focus Tours

    Currently this is $30 per tour (a $10 upgrade from the Winterthur Experience)

    * Furniture Focus
    * Living with Ceramics
    * Decorating with Textiles
    * Winterthur Then and Now
    * Conservation (first Wednesday of every month)

    For visitors age 8 and over. Members, $10; students/seniors (age 62+), $28

    I'm pretty sure that at least one of the tours I took was Decorating with Textiles (or the equivalent), because at the time I was particularly interested in crewel and needlepoint, and was starting to design my own needlepoint pieces.

    c 1730 Cecil Co. MD Pickard House Courtesy Wintert Entrance door Back of the house Another view of the house Hardenbergh House c. 1762 NY Courtesy of Winterthu
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    The Reflecting Pool

    by tpangelinan Updated Sep 24, 2003

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    The Reflecting Pool is a wonderful garden area designed in 1929 by architect/ landscaper Marian Coffin, with many places to sit, and lot of large marble outcoves with benches if it starts raining. There are water fountains every where!

    The Reflecting Pool from ground level
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    visit the Winterthur Mansion

    by davecallahan Updated Jun 25, 2007

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    This house is architectually magnificent with gables and arches and collonades and super-high vaulted ceilings and tapestried walls. The furniture is esquisite and covers several 19th-early-20th century fashions. The silverware and china are sparkling and diverse from room to room. There is ornately carved molding and balconies with great views over the estate. You can go on a gathering tour (impromptu mass of people) or for an extra fee, you can have a private tour.
    Of course, there is a huge gift shop and they have a very nice restaurant/lounge with indoor and outdoor seating.

    The whole thing was a hefty $15 dollars per person for the mansion tour not including the garden tour, the food costs and the souveniers. But they did provide free bottled water (very hot that day) and the tram ride to/from the parking lot.

    the mansion the free tram the cafeteria with view of the gardens
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    Campbell Soup Tureen collection

    by tpangelinan Updated Oct 4, 2003

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    This tureen Was made in France or Italy between 1720 & 1750, said to have been made for Prince Marc de Beauvan-Craon. This one is very large. early eighteenth-century Europe. Omula-Brass Tureen.

    Omula-Brass Tureen
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    So many Tureens, soo little time!

    by tpangelinan Updated Sep 24, 2003

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    Soo many more beautiful Tureens. As you walk into the Libray you are greeted by hundreds of antique soup tureens, some dating back to early 17th century.

    Campbell's Collection
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Winterthur Things to Do

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