WINTERTHUR, DEL. — Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library announces the establishment of the Wendell D. Garrett Award as a testament to the unparalleled accomplishments of one of its most illustrious alumni. Wendell Garrett (1929–2012) was a member of the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture Class of 1957.
He is missed by those who followed him through The Magazine Antiques, public television’s Antiques Roadshow, and appearances at conferences throughout the country. In recognition of Garrett’s accomplishments and influence, he was honored with Winterthur’s Henry Francis du Pont Award for distinguished contributions to American arts in 1994.
The first recipient of the Wendell D. Garrett Award is Gerald W.R. Ward, senior consulting curator and the Katharine Lane Weems Senior Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture Emeritus, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
“It is a great honor for Winterthur to present the inaugural Wendell D. Garrett Award to Gerald W.R. Ward. Like Wendell, Gerry stands as a benchmark for excellence in American decorative arts and history, selflessly sharing his lightly worn yet considerable knowledge with students and scholars from every discipline,” said Tom Savage, director of museum affairs at Winterthur. “Wendell’s contributions to popular print and broadcast media, support of symposia and seminars across the country, and ability to engage the seasoned connoisseur and the fledgling student alike made him particularly effective in engaging the public in an understanding and appreciation of America’s art, architecture, and history.”
Winterthur created the Wendell D. Garrett Award in cooperation with Garrett’s family as a way to preserve and share his legacy. A prolific author and editor, Garrett crafted countless articles and books in a supremely articulate style. Winterthur is privileged to create an award in his name to recognize similar achievements in melding decorative arts and history with the originality and eloquence that defined his career.
Like Garrett, Ward has influenced a generation of graduate students and young professionals, most recently as a faculty member of the Sotheby’s Institute Program in American Fine and Decorative Art. Through his work at Yale, Winterthur, Strawbery Banke and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Ward has had an indelible effect on the field of American decorative arts. His deft skill as a writer and editor are renowned among his colleagues.
He has had a hand in producing many of the major academic publications that have appeared over the past 25 years. His consummate skill in bringing together the works of many authors to create cohesive publications, and his incredible command of the literature in all aspects of American decorative arts, have made him the colleague that scholars in the field turn to, to review their work and make it better.
Ward has served as president of the Decorative Arts Society and was an early editor of its newsletter, and has written the annual bibliographic review for American furniture since its inception. Among the countless publications for which he has served as editor and writer, Ward has made enormous contributions to the Winterthur Portfolio as assistant editor, and provided scores of book reviews.
“Gerry’s distinguished contributions to these disciplines coupled with this embodiment of many of Wendell’s trademark qualities make him a fitting recipient of the first presentation of this esteemed award,” Savage said.
Jane Nylander, Historic New England president emerita noted, “Gerry’s service as a meticulous scholar whose high standards, integrity and sense of humor have greatly enriched our understanding of American history and decorative arts.”
Patricia Kane, the Friends of American Arts Curator of American Decorative Arts at Yale University Art Gallery, defined “Gerry’s special gift” as a “deep understanding of American history” that appears throughout his writings on a broad range of topics pertaining to American material culture.
A 1971 graduate of Harvard, Ward earned his PhD in American studies from Boston University. He has organized exhibitions on subjects as diverse as colonial American silver, Dale Chihuly, folk art and contemporary studio furniture and crafts. Ward’s numerous publications include Silver in American Life, 1979, written and edited with his wife Barbara, American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University, 1988, The Maker’s Hand: American Studio Furni-ture,1940–1990, 2003, and Silver of the Americas,1600–2000, 2008.
He has played an essential role in the collaborative project Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture, which unites Winterthur with 11 Massachusetts organizations in a partnership to promote the craft history of the Bay State. Ward also serves as a state representative for New Hampshire’s 28th District, he and his wife Barbara live in Portsmouth. They have two adult sons, a daughter-in-law, and a 1-year-old grandson.
“It hardly needs saying that I am grateful to Gerry, as are many others, for his profound contributions to the field and for his freely shared knowledge,” said Jonathan L. Fairbanks, director, Fuller Craft Museum, and the Katherine Lane Weems Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture Emeritus, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Ward will receive the inaugural Wendell D. Garrett Award on Saturday, November 9, at 6 pm, at the 50th Annual Delaware Antiques Show at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington. The public is invited to attend.
For additional information, winterthur.org or 800-448-3883.