by The Preservation Society of Newport County

The Preservation Society of Newport County, in collaboration with the Decorative Arts Trust, is pleased to offer its third annual Emerging Scholars Colloquium on Thursday, May 13.

This virtual event begins at 12:30 p.m. EDT and will feature original research presented via Zoom Webinar by three young scholars and professionals in the fields of decorative arts and material culture. Each scholar will give a presentation on his or her specific area of study, and then join in discussion with a senior colleague.

“This is a remarkable opportunity for high school and college students to learn about historical research and gain valuable insights into the field of decorative arts,” said Leslie Jones, the Director of Museum Affairs and Chief Curator at the Preservation Society. “Because this is a free Zoom Webinar, attendees are not limited by location or cost. We hope students from all over take advantage of this unique event and are inspired to pursue this field of study.”

The presentations are as follows:

 MaryKate Smolenski

• “Interpreting Hunter House and its Occupants,” by MaryKate Smolenski, 2020-2021 Preservation Society Research Fellow. Built c. 1748, Hunter House is a symbolic landmark of Newport’s so-called golden age, commemorating aspects of American refinement, architecture, and artistic splendor enjoyed by white, male property owners. This presentation will examine past interpretations but dig deeper into the history behind the house, its occupants, and its objects. New research sheds light on who lived at Hunter House and the site’s entanglement in circum-trans-Atlantic slavery, and this talk will explore how we interpret these histories moving forward.

Joined by Ken Turino, Manager of Community Partnerships and Resource Development, Historic New England.

Catherine Doucette

• “Beyond Rhode Island: Newport Craft in the Circum-Atlantic World,” by Catherine Doucette, 2020-2021 Preservation Society Research Fellow. During the 18th century, Newport played a prominent role in the circum-Atlantic trade of enslaved peoples, raw materials, and consumer goods. Dynamic overseas trade networks also enabled the trade of objects made in Newport to colonies such as Jamaica and Antigua. This talk will situate Newport craft within the circum-Atlantic world, examining the interchange of materials and objects between Rhode Island, Britain, and the circum-Caribbean during the 18th century.

With Liz St. George, Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts, Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Sébastien Dutton

• “An Ogden Codman Original: Exploring and Interpreting the Third Floor at The Breakers,” by Sébastien Dutton, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 Preservation Society Research Fellow. Using documents, drawings, and paintings found in various institutional archives, an understanding of Ogden Codman’s design work on the third floor of The Breakers is finally being realized. Largely untouched since its completion in 1895 and used exclusively by Vanderbilt family descendants until 2018, this unique space is soon to be open to the public for the first time by way of a specialty tour. Dutton will share how the nine bedroom spaces – plus bathrooms, dressing rooms, and closets – were originally designed by Codman as well as how they appear today. 

Featuring Leslie B. Jones, Director of Museum Affairs and Chief Curator, The Preservation Society of Newport County.

To register, go to

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island is a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties – seven of them National Historic Landmarks – span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development. For more information, please visit

The Decorative Arts Trust is a non-profit membership organization that promotes and fosters the appreciation and study of the decorative arts through exchanging information through domestic and international programming; collaborating and partnering with museums and preservation organizations; and underwriting internships, research grants, and scholarships for graduate students and young professionals. For more information, please visit

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