Mellon grant supports hurricane recovery

Art conservators and graduate students from the University of Delaware and Winterthur Museum & Country Estate will be able to continue important work on the restoration of Gulf Coast treasures damaged by Hurricane Katrina through a $403,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“We are grateful for the support of the Mellon Foundation, which continues to demonstrate its commitment to the preservation of America’s cultural heritage and to the education and training of future conservation professionals,” said Debra Hess Norris, Henry Francis du Pont chair in Fine Arts at the University of Delaware. An emergency response team composed of Winterthur staff and WUDPAC faculty was formed immediately after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast last fall, Norris said.

The Mellon Foundation provided emergency funding to support the work of the team, which was led by Jennifer Mass, a senior scientist at Winterthur and an adjunct faculty member in WUDPAC. The group included specialists in the conservation of textiles, paintings, objects, paper, photographs, furniture and library materials, as well as preventive conservation and conservation science.

Response and recovery efforts were focused on two Biloxi museums: the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art and Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis home and presidential library. The museum houses a collection of pottery by George Ohr, one of America’s finest art potters, and a collection of African-American art and archival material from Biloxi and its diverse communities.