Historical Note


The department of European Decorative Arts after 1700 operates as a distinct office within the European Decorative Arts and Sculpture division. The Museum formally administered its collections of decorative arts by time period in 1967, creating separate curatorial offices for decorative arts created after 1700 and for those of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. "Oriental art," as it was called then, had always been treated as its own area of specialization, completely separate from Western art. At the time of the department name change, Calvin S. Hathway served as curator of Decorative Arts after 1700. In 1973, Hathaway became curator emeritus and Kathryn B. Hiesinger joined the Museum staff as the department's Associate Curator. That year the Museum also established a department of American Art, which would oversee American decorative arts and leave post-1700 European objects under the purview of "after 1700." The next year, the department was renamed as European Decorative Arts after 1700, and Ms. Hiesinger was appointed the department's curator, which remains her current position. Donna Corbin is Associate Curator.

While the Museum does not officially identify a curator or curatorial office in charge of European decorative arts crafted before 1700, the designation allows easy differentiation from the formal curatorial position overseeing "European decorative arts after 1700." Each of these categories, along with "Arms and Armor" and "Dutch Ceramics," currently comprise the four curatorial offices that currently operate under the general division of "European Decorative Arts and Sculpture."