2023 MESDA Summer Institute: The Lowcountry

June 4–June 30, 2023 Winston-Salem, NC

Fanning Basket by a now-unknown woman who was enslaved at Cat Island Plantation, Georgetown County, South Carolina, 1850-1860. Rush and split white oak. The Charleston Museum, by trade (5764.1)

The MESDA Summer Institute is a rigorous multi-disciplinary decorative arts and material culture field school for graduate students, museum professionals, makers, and independent scholars. The 2023 MESDA Summer Institute will use decorative arts and material culture of the Lowcountry as its laboratory. Summer Institute Fellows spend a month working closely with MESDA’s unparalleled collection and research resources. Using primary-sources and object-based analysis fellows gain experience with decorative arts across a range of media and learn how to create compelling object- and place-based narratives. The curriculum includes lectures and collection studies with leading curators and scholars, hands-on workshops with master craftspeople, and an intensive week-long study trip from Charleston, South Carolina, to St. Mary’s, Georgia.

Now in its 46th year, the MESDA Summer Institute is offered in partnership with the University of Virginia. Students receive three hours of graduate credit through UVA’s Graduate Program in the History of Art and Architecture.

Participants are eligible for full fellowships that cover the entire cost of the course, including tuition, housing, and the study trip.




About the Institute

For more information please contact the Institute Director, Chief Curator Dr. Daniel Ackermann at [email protected]

Support the MESDA Summer Institute

The Frank L. Horton Fellowship Fund provides critical support to MESDA’s Summer Institute for Early Southern Decorative Arts and Material Culture. Please click here to contribute to the Frank L. Horton Fellowship Fund.