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Andrew Taggart and Clara Boesch reviewing ‘Marquetry’ in the Dr. Susan Weber Furniture Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Cindy Kok preparing to print on William Morris’s Albion press at the William Morris Society.

I had the privilege of leading fourteen rising second-year MA students on this year’s Bard Travel Program in London from May 18 through the twenty-seventh. We visited a dizzying array of museums and historic houses, chosen to reflect the diverse interests of the students and the best of London’s cultural riches. The Victoria and Albert Museum was a focus of our study, and along with several days spent in the galleries, we met with Bill Sherman, Head of Research, to hear about the museum’s emerging Research Institute, and toured the V&A’s state-of-the-art textile and costume storage facility at Blythe House. As we have in the past, we also organized with Marta Ajmar a series of student interchanges and social events with our counterparts in the MA program at the V&A/Royal College of Art. Other London highlights included visits to the Wallace Collection and the William Morris Society, where students had a chance to use Morris’s own printing press.

Moving farther afield, we profited from a bank holiday to travel west of London to two historic houses along the Thames. We began at Ham House in Richmond, a wonderfully intact but relatively little-visited seventeenth-century aristocratic country house, where historian Sarah Pennell led a visit that included Ham’s newly restored kitchen and service areas, of great interest to many of us. We then moved down the road to Hampton Court, a prime tourist destination whose multiple gift shops, liveried warders leading tours, and loud, performative group tours for young children contrasted starkly with Ham’s largely silent halls. Other excursions included Julius Bryant’s detailed tour of Chiswick House, including the rare opportunity to enter the house through its monumental staircase. As the former head of English Heritage who oversaw Chiswick’s restoration and refurnishing, Julius shared with us both the challenges and the rationales behind the choices and interventions made. We were equally fortunate to have a behind-the-scenes tour of Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire led by Ulrich Leben, whose long-time position as furniture curator there informed his entertaining anecdotes and deep knowledge about the furnishings. After detailed study of the house and gardens, Ulrich took us to a new archive facility on the property called Windmill Hill, whose Corbusian, zen-like modernist aesthetic was a striking contrast to the Manor’s stately, traditional architecture and interiors. All in all, our program offered a rich and varied tapestry of study visits that I hope the students found edifying and inspirational for their second and final year at Bard Graduate Center.

—Deborah L. Krohn, Associate Professor and Director of Masters Studies