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Amelia Lancaster, the 2022-23 Americana Foundation Curatorial Intern at Colonial Williamsburg, Applies Passion, Curiosity, and Intuition to the Curation of American Ceramics

by Kathryn Buckner
Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Amelia Lancaster’s path to the Americana Foundation Curatorial Internship at Colonial Williamsburg had its share of twists and turns. Originally from Jackson, Tennessee, Amelia graduated from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia with a Major in Art History and Minors in Chinese, Cultural Heritage, and Museum Studies. Her college experience included conducting a summer research project in China on the gender gap in marriage and dating culture, studying Italian language and culture in Rome, and co-curating an exhibition of Chinese export porcelain figures with Senior Curator of Ceramics for The Museums at W&L, Ron Fuchs, who first introduced her to art history through his class on Chinese export porcelain and trade.

Amelia’s college experience exposed her to a variety of museum skills and solidified her curatorial ambitions and commitment to pursue a museum career. Ever practical, however, she decided that a fellowship would provide even more hands-on experience and important context for her anticipated graduate studies. Accordingly, she applied for and was selected from among dozens of applicants to serve as the Americana Foundation Curatorial Intern at Colonial Williamsburg for 2022-2023. As the Americana Foundation intern, Amelia works with Angelika Kuettner, CW’s Associate Curator of Ceramics and Glass, to study and catalog ceramic objects in CW’s collections.

Amelia’s work at CW is both diverse and detailed. CW’s decorative arts ceramics collection includes more than 10,000 objects -- dishes, pots, storage jars, trays, vases, jugs, etc. -- ranging in date from the 17th century through the 1830s. All were made in or imported into America during the colonial and early national periods. Additionally, CW’s outstanding folkart collection includes American objects made up to the present day. Amelia’s job is to gain valuable experience by researching and cataloging aspects of the collection; assisting with accessioning and deaccessioning; and working with CW’s renowned curatorial staff to install objects in CW’s museums and interpretive spaces. Amelia sees the CW internship as an opportunity to interpret US history through a deep understanding of the historical objects in CW’s collection. She enjoys using historical objects to tell stories of early America to public audiences in an engaging, accessible way.

Americana created an endowment to support the Americana Foundation Curatorial Internship at CW in 2005 with a total gift of $500,000. CW uses annual distributions from the fund to support an intern who focuses broadly on the conservation of early American furniture and decorative arts. Since 2009, eight individuals have served as the Americana intern. Almost all former interns now serve as curators, associate curators, or collections specialists at major history museums or arts organizations in the US. Information about Colonial Williamsburg is available on its website. Information about CW’s ceramics collection is available on its collections page.