For more than forty years, Royal Oak has been funding scholarships to enable deserving Americans in need of financial assistance to participate in the annual Attingham Summer School. Each summer, this reputable program offers specialized residential courses to intensively study British country houses, their collections and settings, and their history and contents as well as those of select British royal palaces.

A great number of the houses studied are National Trust properties, fitting with Royal Oak’s mission to raise awareness and to support the Trust’s efforts to protect historic places and spaces – for ever, for everyone. This unequalled program trains the current and next generation of professionals working to safeguard and promote artistic and architectural treasures.

Enriched with the profound knowledge this program affords its participants, alumni continue on to impressive careers within a wide network of prestigious American and international cultural institutions (see some examples below).

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2019 Scholars

Emily Banas

Assistant Curator, Decorative Arts and Design, RISD Museum (Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design)

Emily Banas is the assistant curator of decorative arts and design at the RISD Museum (Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design) in Providence, Rhode Island, where she has been for the past three and half years. Prior to joining the RISD Museum, Emily served as the Windgate intern at the Milwaukee Art Museum. She has an M.A. from the Bard Graduate Center in decorative arts, design history, and material culture, and an M.A. from Georgetown University in art history and museum studies. Emily specializes in decorative arts, craft, and design of the 20th and 21st centuries. Most recently she assisted with the exhibition Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850-1970, with contributions to its accompanying publication. Emily is also an avid learner of materials and processes, having taken courses in ceramics, woodworking, and glassblowing.

Eleanor Gould

Longwood Fellow, Longwood Gardens

Eleanor Gould is currently a Fellow in residence at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania and was most recently Curator of Gardens at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Responsibilities in her former position included horticulture and public garden management, program design, event planning and management, sharing expertise on Jefferson’s gardens and landscapes, community building, social media strategy and many other aspects of nonprofit administration. She graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia with a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture. She is seeking a leadership role within the public garden industry following the Longwood Fellowship and looks forward to expanding on her interest in connecting diverse communities through horticulture.

Shelley Selim

Associate Curator of Design and Decorative Arts, Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Shelley Selim is the Associate Curator of Design and Decorative Arts at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. She provides curatorial oversight of the museum’s design and decorative art collections, as well as its two historic homes—the Lilly House and the Miller House and Garden. Her recent projects include Meadow, an interactive installation by design collective Studio Drift, and a reinstallation of the IMA’s Design Gallery—the largest permanent collection gallery devoted to modern and contemporary design of any museum in the country. Prior to her arrival at the IMA, she was the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Assistant Curator at Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. She earned her MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum/Parsons, the New School for Design.

Abigail Stambach

Head of Archives & Special Collections at College of the Holy Cross

Abigail “Abby” Stambach has recently become the Head of Archives and Special Collections at the College of the Holy Cross. Prior to that she was Head of Archives and Special Collections Library at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington D.C., where she supported the research activities of Hillwood’s curators and interpretive staff as well as assisting researchers from other organizations. Previously, she worked as College Archivist and Coordinator of Reference Services at the Sage Colleges in upstate New York. Abby holds an MSIS from the University of Albany and a bachelor’s degree in History from Gettysburg College. She is particularly interested in outreach and has spoken on these topics at several international, national and regional conferences.

2018 Scholars

Mrs. Myrtle-Jane “MJ” Hagan

Head of Collections Management and Registrar, Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

As Head of Collections Management and Registrar for Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington, D.C., MJ Hagan manages the historic mansion interior and the collection of approximately 20,000 objects. Highlights of the collection include French and Russian decorative arts, 20th century material culture, costumes and jewelry, and two imperial Faberge eggs. MJ has a master’s degree in museum studies from George Washington University with a focus on decorative and fine art collections management, and has been in the museum field for fourteen years.

Ms. Caroline O’Connell

Collections Assistant, Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Caroline O’Connell is based in New York and works in the Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design Department at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.  She is originally from Toledo, Ohio and holds a BA in Art History from Williams College and an MA in Decorative Arts, Design History & Material Culture from Bard Graduate Center.  Her work is focused on the 19th century and she is interested in the history of collecting, trans-Atlantic provenance and patronage, and intersections between English, French and American design.  Caroline hopes to consider specific ways in which trends in English furnishing and collecting have shaped American taste.  Particular focal points include domestic stained glass, silver, and collections of drawings and prints.

Miss Brittany Luberda

Research Assistant, Decorative Arts and Design, Saint Louis Art Museum

Brittany Luberda is the Decorative Arts and Design Research Assistant at Saint Louis Art Museum. She is currently researching and cataloging 700 European and American objects from 1400 to the present in preparation for a complete gallery reinstallation. Previously, Brittany served as department assistant for Decorative Arts and Object Conservation at the Frick Collection and held internships in European Paintings and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago and Dallas Museum of Art. Most recently, she has published in Journal18 and the Furniture History Society newsletter. Prior to Attingham, Brittany received a Paul Mellon Centre research grant to study the Duke of Newcastle archives at the University of Nottingham and the porcelain holdings at the Wallace Collection and Waddesdon Manor. Her principal interest is 18th-century European ceramics.

Ms. Kimberly “Kim” Robinson

Museum Curator, National Park Service

Kimberly Robinson is currently serving as Museum Curator at the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP), a National Park Service unit in the Washington Metropolitan Area that includes Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial and Clara Barton National Historic Site. She graduated from the George Washington University’s Museum Studies Graduate Program with a Master of Arts degree with a concentration in Collections Management in 2006. Her research interests are focused on 19th Century Fine and Decorative Arts as well as architecture, in particular the art, architecture and design of the Victorian Era. Ms. Robinson has given numerous talks on historic homes and museum collections management.  She also serves of the executive board of the Historic House Museum Consortium of DC as the Vice President of Virginia and is involved with the Workforce Advisory Group for the National Capital Region of the NPS in addition to serving as a member of the NPS Registrar’s Committee.

Dr. Emily Williams

Senior Conservator, Archaeological Materials, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Dr. Emily Williams is the Senior Conservator for Archaeological Materials at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia.  She has an MA in the Conservation of Historic Objects from Durham University and a (very recent) PhD in Archaeology from the University of Leicester.  Williams has worked on sites and in museums around the world.  She teaches conservation courses at the University of Mary Washington and The College of William and Mary (both in Virginia).  Her research interests have focused on conservation outreach, the impact of portable fire extinguishers on cultural heritage materials, and most recently on how objects and places shape human experience and how our own construction of identity and memory shapes, and is shaped by, the preservation decisions we make. The ways in which individuals, families and communities inscribe themselves on both physical and cognitive landscapes as well as how contemporary memory, mass tourism and preservation decisions alter those inscriptions interests her deeply.

Past Scholars

Ms. Lydia Brandt

Royal Oak Foundation Scholar

Lydia Brandt is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina in the School of Visual Arts and Design. Dr. Brandt teaches undergraduate courses in American art, architectural history, material culture, and theories and methods for historic preservation, in addition to teaching graduate courses in public history. She holds her BA in Art History from New York University, her MA in Architectural History and her PhD in Art and Architectural History both from the University of Virginia. She lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

Ms. Melissa Buchanan

Royal Oak Foundation Dowager Duchess of Devonshire Scholar

Melissa Buchanan is the RosaMary Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). Ms. Buchanan oversees the NOMA’s largest permanent collection division of more than 15,000 works. She holds her BA in American Studies from Yale University and her MA in Early American Culture from the University of Delaware. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Mr. Edgar Garcia

Royal Oak Foundation Scholar

Edgar Garcia is the Special Projects Manager for the Office of the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles. Mr. Garcia directs and oversees rehabilitation and restoration work, and the interior redesign project of the Getty House. He holds his BA in History from Yale University and his MA in Urban Planning from UCLA. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Ms. Susan Hitchcock

Royal Oak Foundation Scholar

Susan Hitchcock is a Historical Landscape Architect for the National Park Service. Ms. Hitchcock works with the Southeast Region of the National Park Service developing cultural landscape reports in addition to assisting with procedures and methods of historic preservation practice. She holds a BA degree in French from the University of South Carolina, a BS in Medical Technology from the Medical University of South Carolina, and an MHP in Landscape Preservation from the University of Georgia. She lives in Eatonton, Georgia.

Ms. Mi Chou (Mimi) Huang

Royal Oak Foundation Scholar

Mi Chou Huang is a Research Assistant for the Department of Asian Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum in Saint Louis, Missouri. Ms. Huang assists with numerous ongoing exhibitions and catalogues which include Chinese and Japanese artworks. She holds her BA in History from the National Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan, her MA in Chinese Art History from the Chinese Culture University in Taipei, and a second MA in Modern Art History from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. She lives in Saint Charles, Missouri.

Ms. Aimee Keithan

Royal Oak Foundation Jeremy Biggs Scholar

Aimee Keithan is the Research Fellow for the Preservation Society of Newport County in Newport, Rhode Island. Ms. Keithan has been working on a research project on domestic service architecture in Newport’s historic mansions. She holds her BA in Architecture from the University of Maine at Augusta and MA in Buildings Archaeology from the University of York in England. She lives in Newport, Rhode Island.

Mr. David (Ned) Lazaro

Royal Oak Foundation Charlotte Moss Scholar

David Lazaro is the Associate Curator of Textiles and Collections Manager of Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Mr. Lazaro collects and interprets Historic Deerfield’s fashion and textile collection in addition to managing the entire permanent collection. He holds a BS in Apparel Marketing and a MA in Fashion and Textile History both from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He lives in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Ms. Sheri Shaneyfelt

Royal Oak Foundation Scholar

Sheri Shaneyfelt is the Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Vanderbilt University in the Department of the History of Art. Dr. Shaneyfelt teaches several courses in European history, including Italian and Northern European art and architecture between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries in addition to a Western art and architecture survey course of art between 1400 and 1940. She holds her BS in Biology with a minor in Art History from Centre College, her MA in the History of Art from Vanderbilt University, and her PhD in the History of Art from Indiana University at Bloomington. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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