A cultural movement as well as an architectural and decorating style during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Colonial Revival was inspired by a romantic veneration of America’s past. At Shelburne Museum this manifested in the development of a 45-acre campus populated with buildings and objects ranging from hatboxes to furniture, installed in period rooms and galleries meant to inspire visitors to recall a collective colonial past. This talk will survey the relationships between three early Colonial Revival collectors – Shelburne Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb and two of her important advisors, Lillian Baker Carlisle and Katherine Prentis Murphy – and investigate the ways that these three intelligent, innovative, head-strong women ultimately shaped larger trends in how we have come to collect, interpret, and understand American antiques and material culture.
Trained as a specialist in American art history, decorative arts, and material culture, Katie Wood Kirchhoff holds a BA from Smith College, an MA from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, and a PhD from the University of Delaware. Katie has worked for a range of museums and cultural organizations including the American Philosophical Society, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, and is currently the associate curator at Shelburne Museum where she researches and organizes exhibitions focusing on the museum’s historic collections of American fine, folk, and decorative arts.