Winterthur announces Morrison Heckscher as award recipient

Curator emeritus of The American Wing of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is graduate of Winterthur Program in American Material Culture


WINTERTHUR, DE – The Trustees of Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library are pleased to announce the 2016 recipient of the Henry Francis du Pont Award is Morrison H. Heckscher, Curator Emeritus, The American Wing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The award will be conferred December 3 during a ceremony at Winterthur.

The award celebrates the vision and talents of Henry Francis du Pont. In bestowing the award, the Trustees intend to commemorate the dedication to excellence demonstrated in the creation of Winterthur, his great American country estate. In recognizing individuals who have made contributions of national significance to the knowledge, preservation, and enjoyment of American decorative arts, architecture, landscape design, and gardens, the Trustees honor his genius and legacy.

“It is an honor for the Winterthur Trustees to present the Henry Francis du Pont Award to Morrison Heckscher, an accomplished scholar who is one of Winterthur’s own as a graduate of the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in Early American Culture,” said Winterthur Trustees Chair Katharine Booth. “Morrie’s extraordinary contributions to American decorative arts include prolific scholarship, curatorial exceptionalism, such as the seminal exhibitions American Rococo: Elegance in Ornament, 1750–1775 and John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, among others, and the expansion and modernization of The American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. We are deeply grateful to Morrie for his inspiring vision and leadership in the field.”

Heckscher is a 1964 graduate of the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in Early American Culture. He received his B.A. in American History from Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. in Art History from Columbia University. During his education, he developed particular interest in 18th-century American furniture and 19th– and 20th-century American architecture. He is perhaps best known for his nearly five decades of dedicated service to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, during which time he mounted several important exhibitions with accompanying catalogs including American Rococo: 1750—1775; John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker; The Metropolitan Museum of Art: An Architectural History, 1870—1995; and Creating Central Park.

In 1998, he was appointed the Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator of American Decorative Arts and became the Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of The American Wing in 2001, a position he held for 13 years. He conceived and supervised the decade-long renovation and reinstallation of the entire American Wing, culminating in the American Paintings and Sculpture Galleries that opened to much acclaim in 2012. He now serves as Curator Emeritus of The American Wing.

Heckscher is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Antique Dealers Association of America Award of Merit, the Frederic E. Church Award, the Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History, and the Iris Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship. He remains an active member of the Society of Winterthur Fellows, which is a membership organization open to alumni of the Winterthur graduate programs and whose mission is to contribute to the education of current fellows by mentoring and sponsoring programs. From 1987 until 1991, Heckscher served as president of the society and represented the organization as a Trustee ex officio on the Winterthur Board.

In 1993, Heckscher was reelected to the Winterthur Board as a Trustee and continues to serve in that capacity. In addition to his current membership on the Collections Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee, he has served on the Museum Committee, the Buildings Committee, the Museum Affairs Committee (Chairman 1998—2000), and the Period Room Subcommittee (Chairman 1999–2000).

Heckscher and his wife, Fenella, are well known for generously sharing their hospitality and expertise with many Winterthur colleagues, students, and friends over the years. In 2011, they established The Morrison and Fenella Heckscher Fund to provide an endowment to benefit current graduate students in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. These funds are used for conference attendance, travel, and other expenses related to the graduate experience.

Past recipients of the H.F. du Pont Award include Bertram K. Little and Nina Fletcher Little; Pamela Cunningham Copeland; Frank Liipfert Horton; Wendell D. Garrett; Israel Sack and sons Harold, Albert, and Robert; Ralph Emerson Carpenter; Linda H. Kaufman and George M. Kaufman; George A. Weymouth; and John L. and Marjorie P. McGraw; and many other distinguished individuals.

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