By PATRICIA TALORICO, The News Journal
WINTERTHUR, De. (AP) – A longtime employee of the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library has been selected to manage the popular tourist attraction in Delaware.
Chris Strand, who was previously the Garden and Estate Manager, is now in charge of Henry Francis du Pont’s former estate on Delaware Route 52 between Greenville and Centerville.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, the recent storm damage on the estate, changing tastes, changes in school visits and new technologies all present challenges and opportunities,” said Chris Strand, freshly. appointed Director and CEO of Winterthur Museum & Library.
Winterthur centers on a grand, 175-room mansion on a 1,000-acre estate in “Castle Country”, Delaware’s most exclusive region and, for generations, the home of extended members of the du Pont family.
The museum houses one of the best collections of American decorative arts in the United States and has historical ties to the White House. In 1961, First Lady Jackie Kennedy asked Henry Francis du Pont, an old friend of her mother’s family, to help restore the White House during her husband’s administration. It has been considered one of the most influential interior design projects in American history.
President Joe Biden, after the deaths of his first wife Neilia and granddaughter Naomi, already rented a house on the Winterthur grounds for about a year in the 1970s. He and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, have currently a home in Greenville, about four miles from the museum.
Chris Strand has served as Winterthur’s interim director and CEO since former director Carol B. Cadou stepped down in May after a three-year stint.
Around this time, Cadou wrote a letter to staff at Winterthur saying she was leaving the post for family reasons and “would be returning to our family home in Bethesda, Maryland.”
In June, the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America announced that Cadou would become its executive director on September 7. She is based at her Dumbarton House in Washington, DC
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial pressures on museums across the country, and Winterthur has not been spared.
In July 2020, under Cadou’s leadership, Winterthur laid off employees in four divisions, with its public safety department receiving the biggest cuts.
Documents obtained by Delaware Online / The News Journal showed that 27 positions had been cut. All were regular, non-seasonal and non-temporary employees.
Cadou’s announced departure last May surprised some because she seemed to be planning a long stay at the head of the museum.
A November 2020 New York Times article detailed how a federal-style brick building on the property known as Chandler Farm was renovated and redesigned for the Cadou family with help from Thomas Jayne, an architect from interior based in New York.
In a May 2 opinion piece for Delaware Online / The News Journal, written a few weeks before her resignation, Cadou wrote that she looked forward to 2022, “when we unveil a special exhibit,” Jacqueline Kennedy and Henry Francis of the Bridge: From Winterthur to the White House.
The exhibition is scheduled to debut in May 2022.
In May, Winterthur also announced the departure of J. Thomas Savage, director of one of Winterthur’s most successful exhibitions, the “Costumes from Downton Abbey”, just weeks after Cadou’s announcement. This is the museum’s most lucrative and most visited exhibition.
Savage, a 16-year Winterthur veteran, is now the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Director of Educational Travel and Conferencing.
The Winterthur Museum is known for hosting its annual point-to-point steeplechase and tailgating races, which is one of the state’s most anticipated spring events. A Delaware tradition since 1979, it has attracted up to 18,000 spectators.
The museum has also been featured in several episodes of the PBS series “Antiques Road Show”. PBS recently rerun the Winterthur episodes which were filmed in the museum grounds in 2019.
Chris Strand has been in Winterthur since 2005
Kathy P. Booth, Chairman of the Winterthur Board of Directors, said that the Winterthur Board of Directors “is delighted to have someone who knows Winterthur so well”.
“Chris is so knowledgeable in so many areas – fundraising, morale building, communication,” she said in a prepared statement.
Strand’s long career in horticultural outreach, education and management has included leading Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax County, Va. From January 1998 to May 2005, and managing its continued development. from private property to public garden and historic site.
He was also a local horticulturalist at the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University from July 1993 to January 1998.
As Interim Director of Winterthur, Strand was responsible for all aspects of museum, library and garden operations, including the management of Winterthur academic programs through the University of Delaware, fundraising, relations with the board of directors, long-term planning, budgetary supervision and the day-to-day coordination of the management teams serving the mission of Winterthur.
He continues this work in his new role.
“I am happy and honored to hold this position at this time in Winterthur’s history,” Strand said in a statement.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, recent storm damage on the estate, changing tastes, changes in school visits and new technologies all present challenges and opportunities. “
He credits Winterthur staff with their creativity in meeting challenges and attracting new audiences while remaining good stewards of the property and the collection.
“I’m very proud of them, and because of them I’m incredibly optimistic about our future,” Strand said.
Copyright 2021 The Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.