Department of Curatorial & Collections



The Curatorial department researches and acquires objects that help provide context for those who lived at Montpelier, including the Madisons, the duPonts, and enslaved individuals.  The Collections department is responsible for the maintenance and preservation of the 5,000 objects on exhibit and in storage at Montpelier.

Curatorial & Collections Projects

Many of the projects our department undertakes are not done within the view of visitors.  Our work is seen in the interpretation of the rooms, exhibit cases, and in the care of the objects. Read about our projects to get a behind the scenes look at how exhibits come together and the special objects at Montpelier.

Montpelier Digital Collections Project

Archaeology, Architecture & Preservation, Curatorial & Collections, Research
Montpelier Digital Collections Project

The Collections at Montpelier

Curatorial & Collections
The Collections at Montpelier

Furnishing a Bedchamber

Curatorial & Collections
Furnishing a Bedchamber

Digging Deeper Blog

Check out our blogs and read about our projects to learn about what we’ve done in the past and what our department is currently working on. Find out how we install objects, care for the Montpelier collection and what day-to-day collections work is like.

Read about our latest installations

January 2018 saw the largest internal transformation since the restoration.

The Team

Montpelier, the home of former president James Madison, located in Orange County, VA. Photo/Andrew Shurtleff

Elizabeth Chew, PhD

Vice President for Museum Programs

Elizabeth Chew oversees the entire Montpelier Museum Programs Division. An art historian, she holds a B.A. from Yale, an M.A. from the Courtlauld Institute of the University of London and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked at museums and historic sites since 1985, including as a curator at Monticello for thirteen years, and as the Betsy Main Babcock Director of the Curatorial and Education Division at Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, N.C. She has taught art history at the University of North Carolina, University of Virginia, James Madison University, Wake Forest University, and Davidson College and published and lectured widely on ways that art and architectural patronage relate to gender, race, and family politics.


Jenniffer Powers

Collections Manager

Jenniffer Powers joined Montpelier in May 2014, after completing her degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington. As the Collections Manager, Jenniffer works behind the scenes and beyond the ropes to provide care and maintenance for the entirety of the Montpelier Collections – both on display and off display. This includes everything from proper storage to vacuuming textiles, to cleaning silver and sweeping floorcloth! Jenniffer is passionate about making collections and collections management accessible to the public and loves using the Collections Department Instagram account to highlight pieces of the collections both on and off display as well as the work that it takes to preserve the objects and spaces for decades to come!


Leanna Schafer

Curatorial & Collections Assistant

Leanna Schafer earned her BA in Art History at Salem State University. Her background includes fine arts and material culture preventative care and American History. Leanna joined the Collections Department at Montpelier in 2018 where she safe-keeps collections objects and their exhibit spaces, orchestrates object conservation, assists in exhibit design, and creates educational content for the public and staff members through Montpelier’s Digital Doorway. 

She is passionate about histories, preservation, both historical and environmental, and loves sharing their importance.