WINTERTHUR: A New Home For Ephemera

WINTERTHUR:  A New Home for Ephemera

The Winterthur Museum in the vision of Henry Francis du Pont and it houses a magnificent collection of American Decorative Arts.  Though known for its decorative arts collection, and cherished for its gardens, Winterthur also offers scholars and researches access to it’s library and rare book collection.

Many of the objects and wall decorations in the Winterthur collections have influenced  my decorative painting and design  work  though the years.  I first visited Winterthur in the early 1990’s when I was commissioned by designer Jed Johnson to create a 19th Century American Primitive Style Mural at Twin Farms Inn in Woodstock, VT.


Jed showed me photographs of a painted stair hall in the Winterthur collection so I made an appointment to see it.  The Carroll Stair Hall is a brilliant example of 19th century American wall painting, and though not on the public tour, advance appointments can be made to view the Hall.  Below is a picture of the Carroll Stair Hall and below it is a photograph of the mural at painted in the entrance hall at Twin Farms Inn.

The Carroll Stair Hall – Winterthur

Twin Farms Inn – Entrance Hall Mural


The next time I visited the du Pont estate was a decade later when I chose to devote a two page pop-up spread featuring the gardens at Winterthur in my first book, GREAT AMERICAN HOUSES AND GARDENS:  A Pop-Up Book.

I worked closely with Onie Rollins, Publications Editor at Winterthur on the pop-up book project, and so I was delighted to receive an email from Onie asking if I would visit Winterthur as their guest to view a new collection of ephemera that had arrived.

Winterthur Pop-Up


The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection is a world-class collection of over 250,000 items of ephemera (items that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time, typically written or printed materials on paper).  The collection includes greeting cards, games, cigar boxes, tickets, labels, paper dolls, calendars, and much more.  Some of the items have movable parts, which is of great interest to me, as well as beautiful chromolithography, the first form of commercial color printing.

The staff at the Winterthur Special Collections Library is eager to share this extraordinary resource. The collection is being made available for in-depth study and it is well worth making an appointment to the see collection, as well as the gardens and the museum.

Here are a few items from the collection I am particularly fond of.