Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) was the childhood home of du Pont scion and noted horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont. Visitors today may be forgiven if they fall agog at its opulence, because Winterthur is indeed something close to a palace. The 175-room mansion sits in the middle of more than 1000 rolling, sculpted acres – about which more in a moment – and houses the fruits of H.F. du Pont’s lifetime of collecting.
The collection is remarkably varied – everything from ceramics and glassware to furniture (in both wood and metal) and needlework – with a fine collection of art and prints from the 18th and 19th century. Visitors to Winterthur should probably not come looking to find something in particular, but rather to stroll and absorb the wealth and variety. Which is not to suggest that the collection doesn’t have highlights: Trumball’s Washington at Verplanck’s Point is here, as is Paul Revere’s original print of the Boston Massacre, and the Campbell Soup Company’s collection of ornate soup tureens has a gallery all to itself. The Library has over one hundred thousand volumes, most of which concern the design and culture of everyday American life beginning in the 17th century. Recently, this hoard has been augmented by the John and Carolyn Grossman collection of paper ephemera from the years 1820-1920.
The Gardens at Winterthur have been planted not as a scientific botanical display but as an artistic and historical composition. Color was the most important part of du Pont’s gardening aesthetic, and he planted the seven gardens to reflect this philosophy; the various colors are meant to contrast pleasantly with one another at the various stages throughout the growing cycle. The Enchanted Woods, a fairy-tale garden (complete with faeries) underneath a canopy of oak trees, was designed for children and features a Faerie Cottage and the Tulip Tree House.
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library Information
- Public Transportation: Fair (DART bus 10 stops at Winterthur’s front gate, but there is a 10-minute walk down a hill along the driveway to the Winterthur Visitor Center)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good. Wheelchairs are available at no cost at the Visitor Center
- Hours: Museum and Garden: Tuesday–Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (last tour tickets sold at 3:15 p.m., last tour at 3:30 p.m.); closed Mondays (except during Yuletide), Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Library: Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; closed holiday Mondays
- Admission: Adult $18; Senior (62+) and Student (w/ID) $16; Children (2–11) $5; Infants (under 2) and Members Free. Tickets are honored for two consecutive days and include access to the garden, a garden tram tour, the Galleries and special exhibitions, and an introductory house tour
- Tour: The 1-hour Reserved Tour Package (Adult $30; Senior/Student $28; Children $17; Members $12) includes all general admission features as well as a one-hour reserved tour. The 2-Hour Reserved Tour Package (Adult $40; Senior/Student $38; Children $27; Members $22) is designed for connoisseurs, students, or anyone interested in an in-depth exploration of the collection, and includes all general admission features as well as a two-hour reserved tour. Private tours are also available and can be set up by calling the museum (prices vary). Reserved tour offerings change seasonally, and space and availability are limited
- Membership: Individual membership is $60 (Dual $80; Family $85). Member benefits are tiered with every member receiving free general admission; a 1-hour reserved tour of the house; a 10% discount in the Garden Cafeteria and Café, Winterthur Museum, and online stores; preferred pricing and priority reservation for tours, including Yuletide, lectures, workshops, conferences, and concerts; preferred pricing at other Winterthur special events; reciprocal admission privileges and discounts at more than 400 gardens and arboreta in North America; 2 complimentary general admission guest passes; members-only previews of major exhibitions; and a seasonal calendar of events.