I’ve tried a few times to start this post in a manner that befits its contents — but, you guys, I am way too excited for wit:
In three weeks I am flying to London to attend the Attingham Trust Summer School for the study of historic houses. The Samuel H. Kress Foundation is graciously funding my trip. (I am secretly afraid the selection committee thought I was from the Hermitage — as in, the one in St. Petersburg — so I guess we’ll have to see what happens when I turn up, fully American.)
A few years ago I spent some time in the museum services department at Biltmore. My excellent boss waxed elegiac about her time spent at Attingham and suggested I apply for a spot. “The food is awful,” she said, “but the experiences you gain and the places you see will transform you.”
The concept of Americans embarking on transformative tours of English country houses is not a new one. Florence Sloane, our benefactress, embarked on several such tours and I am humbled and delighted to follow in her footsteps. Mrs. Sloane had a keen eye and was an avid note-taker; the journals from her travels will be my constant companion at Attingham, and I am looking forward to making similar observations. So much of what I will study in England is reflected in the Hermitage.
I’m not certain what kind of internet access I will have on the road, but expect some serious blogging replete with country house photos.
Many, many thanks are due to those intrepid few who recommended me for the program and wrote letters on my behalf. Perhaps the biggest thanks goes to our Director who didn’t laugh in my face when I asked for three weeks off to go to England. Not only did she avoid laughing, she encouraged me! The collective will gathered behind this trip is astonishing and I cannot wait to represent our beautiful museum to the very best of my abilities.
Perhaps most importantly, I promise not to do this: