Daisy Adams

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern in the Western Art Department of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford, England. My primary project entailed cataloging European ornamental prints from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The prints were part of a larger collection given to the Ashmolean and Bodleian Library by Francis Douce in 1834. Gathered into an album by Douce, many of the prints contain intricate designs that were used by goldsmiths and other artisans when decorating their works.

This project expanded my knowledge of decorative elements and altered how I examine a decorative object with an ornamental design. Previously, I assumed that artisans themselves were the creators of the ornamental designs on an object. Now, when I examine a watch case, piece of jewelry, or silverware, I am sometimes able to pair the decorative design with a particular print or the style of a printmaker. These prints illustrate how artisans of different mediums interacted and exchanged ideas and styles. Even though these prints were created by Renaissance and Baroque printmakers, they continue to have a lasting impact on the decorative arts. I was particularly excited to pair prints with ornamental designs on watches cases and pendants held by the British Museum.

While my experience at the Ashmolean exposed me to the vast scope of printmaking and expanded my understanding of the design process, the relationships that I developed with museum professionals were an integral component of my internship. The welcoming staff of curators encouraged my interest in the decorative arts and allowed me to handle and interact with objects in the collection whenever possible. Several curators also gave me valuable advice on my future academic pursuits. My ability to discuss a wide range of decorative arts with curators would not have been possible without the extensive knowledge I have gained through my BGC coursework. My experience as a Bard Curatorial Fellow enhanced my ability to closely examine and catalog small prints, which was an essential part of my internship. I also had the opportunity to utilize the Bodleian Library during the evenings and weekends in order to conduct research for my qualifying paper. Through my internship at the Ashmolean, I grew as a student of the decorative arts by working with one of the oldest museum collections in the world and made valuable contacts with museum professionals who share my academic interests. Needless to say, I was thrilled to live in picturesque Oxford, surrounded by English history and architecture.

— Daisy Adams