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Money, Beauty, Power: the Transformation of Taste in Gilded Age America

Wednesday, November 14 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm |

CHS is excited to welcome Ulysses Grant Dietz, Chief Curator Emeritus of The Newark Museum, to deliver our Decorative Arts Council Annual Lecture. He will speak on the changing tastes of Gilded Age America.

Between the end of the Civil War in 1865, and 1917, when the United States entered World War I, the building and consumption patterns of America’s elite changed dramatically, transforming America’s taste in ways that would have lasting cultural implications for the nation. Those who accumulated great wealth in the wake of the Civil War began to look for ways to distinguish themselves from their fellow citizens. A country that once saw itself as a nation of equals began to transform itself into an aristocracy of consumption. The acquisition of material beauty enabled the newly rich to assert their dominance over the rest of society. Moreover, as the United States began to assert itself financially in the world economy, there was a distinct shift away from “modern” aesthetics and a concerted effort to mimic aristocratic styles of the European past.

$15 for CHS members, $20 for non-members, free with subscription for members of the CHS Decorative Arts Council. Light refreshments will be served.

Please help us serve our guests better by pre-registering at [email protected] or by calling 860-236-5621, ext. 238.

Questions? Contact Natalie Belanger, Adult Programs Manager, at [email protected] or 860-236-5621 ext. 289.

About the Speaker

Ulysses Grant Dietz retired as curator of Decorative Arts at The Newark Museum in 2017, where he had been since 1980, and was appointed Chief Curator from 2012. He received his BA in French from Yale University in 1977, and his MA in American Material Culture from the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in 1980.

Mr. Dietz has been the curator of over 100 exhibitions covering all aspects of the decorative arts from colonial to contemporary. He is particularly proud of his work on the Museum’s 1885 Ballantine House, named a National Historic Landmark in 1985. The Ballantine House was transformed and reinterpreted between 1992 and 1994, with a groundbreaking installation called House & Home.

Mr. Dietz has also published numerous articles on decorative arts, drawn from the Newark Museum’s nationally-known collections of art pottery, studio ceramics, silver, jewelry and nineteenth-century furniture. His most recent publications are Masterpieces of Art Pottery, 1880-1930, from the Newark Museum in 2009, and Dream House: The White House as an American Home, released in September 2009 by Acanthus Press in New York. His last book as curator was Jewelry from Pearls to Platinum to Plastic.

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