Curating the Cultural Landscape: Chipstone House as Historical Property

By K.L.H. Wells.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper argues that museums should be considered cultural landscapes and include their landscape resources as part of their curatorial collections. J.B. Jackson’s seminal definition of landscape as a collection of defined spaces is the starting point for relating landscape to other types of collecting and curatorial practices. This issue is particularly pertinent to Chipstone House since it is now the headquarters of the Chipstone Foundation, which curates the renowned collection of early-American decorative arts begun by the house’s original owners, Stanley and Polly Stone. This paper examines the landscape of Chipstone House as a collection and how it has been curated, exploring how these landscape curatorial practices relate to those used to curate what is better known as the “Chipstone Collection” of decorative arts. The paper also explores the role historicism played in the cultural landscape of Chipstone House. The property relates to a wider American interest in an idealized colonial past, particularly since it was designed by Andrew Hepburn, an architect whose firm had been charged with restoring colonial Williamsburg, Virginia in the 1920s and 30s. Chipstone’s emulation of the historical properties in Williamsburg constructs history itself as property, as cultural capital or a commodity that can be bought and displayed.

Keywords: Landscape, Curatorial Practice, Historicism, Colonial Revival, Cultural Capital

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.177-194. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.256MB).

K.L.H. Wells

Art History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA

K.L.H. Wells received her MA in Art History in 2009 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is currently a PhD student in the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California.

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