Curatorial Interns Update: Dan Sousa and Elisabeth Mallin

The Decorative Arts Trust Curatorial Interns Dan Sousa (Historic Deerfield) and Elisabeth Mallin (Maryland Historical Society) are well into their tenures, and their hard work has produced phenomenal results thus far.

Participants in our one-day symposium in partnership with Historic Deerfield gained a glimpse into Dan’s projects as the Peggy N. Gerry-Anne K. Groves Curatorial Intern. His primary tasks are research and writing for a catalog of the museum’s holdings of English ceramics alongside his mentor Amanda Lange, Deerfield’s Curatorial Department Director. Their work on the project consists of two introductory essays and nearly fifty object entries, including the documentation of English ceramics throughout the Connecticut River Valley. Dan and Amanda have made extensive visits to museums, private collections, archives, and archaeological sites, and hope to incorporate any new discoveries into a third catalog essay on the commercial availability of English Ceramics in the Connecticut River Valley between 1700 and 1850.

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Dan installs a clock face for the exhibit, “Rococo: Celebrating 18th-Century Design and Decoration” in Historic Deerfield’s Flynt Center.

Dan’s work has extended to other curatorial projects around the museum. “Researching potential museum acquisitions,” he says, “has been particularly enjoyable. My research has assisted in the acquisition of several items, including an 1801 bed rug wrought by Esther Packard of Cummington, MA, and a tall mahogany secretary attributed to the Hartford cabinetmakers Kneeland and Adams.” He has worked with colleagues across the curatorial department, including assisting Associate Curator of Furniture Christine Ritok with research for an upcoming article on cabinetmaker Daniel Clay. He has also contributed to two exhibitions: as co-curator for Why We Collect: Recent Acquisitions at Historic Deerfield, 2010-2017; and as lead curator for the current exhibition at the Flynt Center for Early New England Life, Rococo: Celebrating 18th-Century Design and Decoration, which will be on view through February 10, 2019. Furthermore, Dan has taught sessions on object handling and genealogical research for Historic Deerfield’s Summer Fellowship Program, an opportunity he relishes.

Elisabeth Mallin, the Decorative Arts Trust Associate Curator at the Maryland Historical Society, has likewise assumed a central role over the past eighteen months. Her lead project, an ongoing assessment of the museum’s furniture collection, allowed her to undertake a massive re-arrangement of the furniture storage for better access to key pieces not currently on display. This has led to unexpected encounters with other elements of the collection, including MdHS’s historic weapons holdings, which she has started cataloging and re-housing. In addition to these tasks, she oversees gift offers to the Society and the deaccessioning processes.

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Elisabeth Mallin adds objects to the expansion of “Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War” at the Maryland Historical Society.

Elisabeth has also served as project manager and co-curator, alongside with Director of Education David Armenti, for MdHS’s exhibit Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War. Originally installed in 2011, the show focuses on Maryland’s unique role as a slaveholding Union state during the war. However, the installation lacked a component that introduced the visitor to the roles of slavery and the free African-American population in Maryland prior to the Civil War. “We felt that the conclusion of the exhibit deserved greater attention, as did the role of African-American soldiers during the war.” Elisabeth and David added twenty objects to the exhibit, fifteen interpretive text panels, introductory and concluding text and design elements, and a new introductory video. The first gallery of the exhibit is the first permanent installation dedicated to African-American history at Maryland Historical Society and brings together decorative arts, fine arts, and material culture.

Elisabeth’s projects have also included installing an exhibit on Maryland foodways for the annual Maryland Day celebration, developing new curatorial tours, and assisting in the implementation of docent tours during the Museum’s Free First Thursdays program. She will also be lecturing at the Society in September on furniture imported to Maryland in the 18th and 19th centuries, a topic she will revisit at the Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum next February.

Trust members will have the opportunity to benefit from Elisabeth’s contributions to the Society in person on April 24, 2019, the day before our Spring Symposium in Annapolis begins. Elisabeth and her mentor Alexandra Deutsch, the Vice President of Collections and Interpretation, will lead in-depth tours and workshops for participants.

We have enjoyed following the progress of Dan and Elisabeth throughout their tenures as interns and wish them the best as they begin to embark on the next stages of their careers. We are also grateful to our donors, particularly the Gerry Charitable Trust and the Marie and John Zimmermann Fund, for their continued support of this vital component of the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program!

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