Alexandra Deutsch, Winterthur Museum
Jackie and curator John Sweeney at Winterthur May 8, 1961
In 1961, an unusual friendship began between one of America’s youngest First Ladies, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, and octogenarian American decorative arts collector, Henry Francis du Pont. After a springtime visit to Winterthur in 1961, the First Lady, with the guidance of Mr. du Pont, embarked on an ambitious restoration of the interiors of the White House. Relying on Mr. du Pont’s expertise, Mrs. Kennedy transformed the public rooms of the White House into spaces filled with historic objects and period-appropriate details. By recovering 18th and 19th century furniture, paintings, and other objects in forgotten recesses of the White House and gathering antiques from prominent collectors and everyday citizens, Mr. du Pont and Mrs. Kennedy created the White House as we know it. This richly illustrated talk narrates this unique, three-year history of the White House and reveals how Winterthur and its founder forever changed the preservation and furnishings of America’s most iconic landmark.
Alexandra Deutsch, a graduate of Vassar College and the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, is the John L. and Marjorie P. McGraw Director of Collections at the Winterthur Museum. She leads Winterthur’s Collections Division that includes curatorial, conservation, registration, exhibitions, estate history, interpretation and programming. Prior to arriving at Winterthur in 2019, she was Vice-President of Collections and Interpretation and Chief Curator at the Maryland Center for History and Culture, formerly the Maryland Historical Society. Her publications include Spectrum of Fashion (2019), Structure and Perspective: David Brewster Explores Maryland’s Social Landscape (2017) and Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte (2016) and she has written and lectured about various topics in American material culture throughout her career with a particular emphasis on women’s and fashion history.