I never thought I'd be interested in the fine points of American furniture making, but my visits to Winterthur have exposed me to the basics in a delightful way. Even a quick walk through the museum set an impression that sticks with you for life. For example, did you know the why the "feet" of American furniture look different? I didn't either until I saw the simple explanation and illustration in the permanent exhibition. My suggestion is to take the house tour once (unless you get hooked), and return for the Christmas displays, which are beautiful and unique. Warning: you easily can get tired of the endless docent tales of du Pont family traditions: they have all been drinking the KoolAid.
Note: Although I have visited Winterthur many times simply to walk the grounds without taking the house tour, or visiting the museum, I have been told by a member that you absolutely must have a ticket, or membership to enjoy this amenity. The docents and staff are a tad frosty at the idea that someone might just park and stroll in.
Frankly, I’m not sure Winterthur’s managers have come to grips with the fact that people come to the property for various reasons, including lectures, and visits to the gift shop, who do not pay a grounds fee to stroll around afterwards. Is this wrong? Is it the visitor’s fault that Winterthur doesn’t manage its inbound visitor traffic more effectively or smartly offer, at the front gate, an easy low-cost informal drop-in rate for recreational visitors? Duh.
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