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About Winterthur Museum

The Winterthur Museum was founded in 1951 by collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969). Today, Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) is the premier museum of American decorative arts, with a collection of approximately 90,000 objects, most of them made or used in America prior to 1860. The collection is displayed in the du Pont’s magnificent 175-room house, and in galleries with both permanent and changing exhibitions.

Winterthur is set amidst a 1,000-acre preserve of rolling meadows and woodlands. Its 60-acre naturalistic garden was designed by du Pont and is among America’s best. Two graduate programs and a preeminent research library make Winterthur an important center for the study of American art and culture, attracting scholars from around the world.

About the Winterthur Needlework Collection

Winterthur’s important collection of needlework is comprised of more than 1,200 objects. Within the collection are more than 300 examples of American girlhood embroidery – samplers, needlework pictures, and Pennsylvania German decorated hand towels. Henry Francis du Pont acquired many important needlework pieces in the early 20th century and the collection continues to grow through the generosity of donors and occasional museum purchases. An important publication that features the collection is Susan Burrows Swan’s seminal book Plain & Fancy: American Women and Their Needlework 1700-1850, originally published in 1977 and reissued in 1995. Winterthur regularly features needlework exhibitions and conferences.

Winterthur’s entire collection of girlhood embroidery is scheduled for inclusion in the Sampler Archive Project. During development of the Sampler Archive database the Winterthur Museum was one of three pilot sites, working collaboratively with project staff to develop and refine the project’s documentation procedures. This led to the inclusion of 100 samplers and needlework pictures from the Winterthur collection. The remaining samplers, needlework pictures, and Pennsylvania German decorated hand towels will be added to the Sampler Archive in stages.

Browse the objects contributed by the Winterthur Museum.

Contacts and Permissions

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Winterthur holds the copyright for its images in the Sampler Archive database. Feel free to use the images for personal research and education.

For permission to publish any images in an online or paper-based publication please email museumcollections@winterthur.org or call 302.888.4775.

Winterthur works hard to make the collection accessible to all. For further information about an object or to make an appointment to see an object or group of objects please email museumcollections@winterthur.org or call 302.888.4775.

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