Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Delaware has awarded the first Wendell D. Garrett Award to Gerald W.R. Ward for distinguished achievement in American decorative arts. The award was established as a testament to the unparalleled accomplishments of one of Winterthur’s most illustrious alumni, Wendell Garrett (1929-2012), who was a member of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture class of 1957.
Ward is the senior consulting curator and the Katharine Lane Weems Senior Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Like Garrett, Ward has influenced a generation of graduate students and young professionals, most recently as a faculty member of the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Through his work at Yale University, 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 skills as a writer and editor are renowned among his colleagues. Ward has had a hand in producing many of the major academic publications that have appeared over the past 25 years. His 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,” said Tom Savage, director of museum affairs at Winterthur.
A 1971 graduate of Harvard, Ward earned his Ph.D. 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 Ward; American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University (1988); The Maker’s Hand: American Studio Furniture, 1940-1990 (2003); and Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000 (2008).
Ward has played an essential role in the collaborative project Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture, which unites Winterthur with ten 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 Barbara Ward live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They have two adult sons, a daughter-in-law, and a one-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 of the Fuller Craft Museum and the Katharine 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 p.m. during the 50th annual Delaware Antiques Show at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware. The public is invited to attend.
Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest