Finkel Fund for Graduate Students

Thanks to the generosity of Peter D. Finkel and Susan R. Finkel and their endowment of the Finkel Fund in Support of Cultural Internships, the Center for Material Culture Studies is able to offer financial support, up to $1,500, for eligible University of Delaware undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a material culture-based internship. Funds may be used for lodging, food, and research materials.

The deadlines for applications for support for the current academic year are November 1 and March 15. Applications will be accepted one month before the deadlines. To apply, submit the following materials (preferably as a single Word document or PDF) to with “Finkel Fund” in the subject field:

  • a brief statement (250-500 words, double-spaced) about your internship and its relationship to material culture studies, and how it will advance your academic and/or professional interest in material culture studies
  • a detailed budget (please be as specific as possible about anticipated costs, and list other funding sources and amounts you will apply for in support of this work)
  • a current CV
  • Please arrange to have your advisor send a letter of reference to

Preference is given to students whose focus is on preservation, conservation, administration, collections management, exhibition, research, and services of museums. Awardees agree to submit a one-page report within one month of completing their internship and no later than the end of the academic year in which the funds were disbursed. Preference shall be given to students who are advanced in their studies.

In accepting a grant the awardee allows CMCS to use any original materials they submit (such as a report and images) for promotional purposes, which could include posting to the website.

Please note the following terms for CMCS awards:
  • Funding caps: doctoral students are eligible to receive a maximum of $3500 in CMCS awards (excluding DELPHI fellowships) over the duration of their degree programs; masters students are eligible to receive a maximum of $2000 in CMCS awards (excluding DELPHI fellowships) over the duration of their degree programs.
  • Acceptance of CMCS awards: awardees are responsible for checking and confirming their eligibility to accept and hold a CMCS award free of conflict, and concurrently with, any other department, program, or university awards.


Learn more about the experiences of our recent recipients of the Finkel Fund below:

Naomi Subotnick — 2021 
Winterthur Program in American Material Culture

With the generous support of the Finkel Fund offered through the University of Delaware’s Center for Material Culture Studies, I spent this past summer as an intern at LancasterHistory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, helping to develop exhibition spaces for the Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site. Currently being interpreted for the first time as museum space, the site will tell the stories of Thaddeus Stevens, a Radical Republican politician and devoted abolitionist who fought for social and economic equality in the years following the Civil War, and Lydia Hamilton Smith, a successful Black businesswoman who worked as Stevens’ housekeeper for many years. Future exhibit spaces will highlight the accomplishments of both Stevens and Smith, the presence of extended family members in the space, and the house’s significance as a point on the Underground Railroad network. The internship at LancasterHistory provided me with a unique opportunity to help develop a new historic site, while also broadening my understanding of museum work. Although the bulk of my work on the Stevens and Smith Site has been based on archival research, I have also been involved in other aspects of project planning, including attending meetings with community stakeholders, exhibit designers, and architects. I am truly grateful for the support of the Finkel Fund, which has allowed me to pursue an enriching internship experience that has provided me with important insights for my future studies and for my developing career.

Winterthur fellow Naomi Subotnick examines objects at LancasterHistory, where she researched to help develop exhibition spaces for the Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site.


Nylah Byrd — 2020
Winterthur / University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation

“This summer I worked with the African American Museum of Philadelphia (AAMP). My main project was to create safe storage for a portion of their Anna Russel Jones collection. Anna Russel Jones was the first African American graduate from the Philadelphia School of Design for Women and is most known for her textile designs, carpet designs, and graphic print artworks. She also was a member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and received many medals during her service. I specifically created storage for books, objects, and textiles, all of which were Jones’ personal items. The books included a well loved Holy Bible, multiple volumes of A Journal of Negro History, and a sweet collection of “Little Blue Books” on various topics. The objects included a pastel set in a large wooden box and a military medal for good conduct. The textiles included wall hanging from the army as well as part of her army uniform. I was honored to help ensure her personal items would remain stable in storage for years to come. In addition to the Anna Russel Jones collection, I worked with AAMP to revise their collections care policy. This was a great experience as it gave me some insight into collections care policy writing all the aspects to consider in the process.”

Nylah Byrd examining a textile from the Anna Russel Jones collection.

Isaac Messina — 2019
Winterthur / University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation

The generous funding of the Finkel Fund helped support my graduate summer internship in paintings conservation at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD, where I had the privilege of working on several Italian Renaissance paintings under the mentorship of three paintings conservators. My major project this summer was the examination and conservation treatment of a small Italian panel painting attributed to Jacopo del Casentino, who was working in Florence at the time of the panel’s creation around the year 1340. This small painting was once part of a portable tabernacle that originally would have been used for private devotion. The small scale of the panel required the majority of the treatment (such as stabilizing lifting paint and cleaning degraded varnish layers) to be carried out under a microscope. Each day I found myself developing a deeper appreciation for the fine brushwork and details on the surface of the painting that, in some cases, I was able to uncover during the conservation treatment. 

Isaac Messina retouching losses on an early fourteenth-century Italian panel of the Last Judgment attributed to Jacopo del Casentino

Madison Brockman — 2017
Winterthur / University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation

“This summer I will be learning from Consuela (Chela) Metzger, head of conservation and previous WUDPAC faculty, and tackling a range of interesting treatments on fascinating objects from the Library’s special collections. Projects include the repair of leather-bound children’s books from the 19th century, well-used maps from the 19th and 20th century, and a truly unique creation of mid-century American material culture: an oversized scrapbook of photographs and other ephemera compiled by the UCLA Marching Band Club. In addition to regular circulating collections material – books that students and researchers can check out and take home – these special collections materials are snapshots into the lives and times of those who made them. Preserving those material artifacts preserves the legacy of the human stories within them.”

Second year art conservation graduate fellow Madison Brockman at her 2017 summer internship at the UCLA Library Conservation department. There she worked on a large scale reformatting project to make the contents of this large 1960s marching band scrapbook both safer and more accessible to researchers. Photo: Chela Metzger, Head of Conservation, UCLA Library

Spencer Wigmore — 2016 (inaugural recipient)
Department of Art History

“This summer I will be interning in the curatorial department at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. I will be participating in a fall 2016 exhibition, Thomas Eakins: Photographer. Consisting of over sixty photographs and three finished paintings, the exhibition explores the extent of Eakin’s involvement with photography. Eakins personal collection included numerous self portraits, mementos of social events, friends, and animals, studies of the nude and of landscape, and more. They indicate the constant material presence of photography in his life – as an integral component of his painting and teaching practices, its importance to domestic life, and its role as a medium for the exploration of gender and artistic identity. As a Finkel fund-supported intern, I will help edit wall labels, conduct object research, and organize event programming.”


Circle of Eakins, Female model spinning while man watches, ca. 1882, Albumen print 4 3/4 x 3 7/8 in., Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Charles Bregler’s Thomas Eakins Collection, purchased with the partial support of the Pew Memorial Trust, 1985.68.2.713