When I started working at Cooper-Hewitt, I really had no idea what the collection was all about. At the time we had a very limited online collection, which included less than 1000 objects. As I started to investigate that museum website I thought it would be interesting to go through the process of searching for and actually viewing an object "IRL" (In Real Life).
Poster: John Lennon, 1967. Designed by Richard Avedon.Gift of Various Donors. 1981-29-511.
So, I searched the term "poster" which gave me a single result--this great poster of John Lennon by Richard Avedon. I thought it would be a fine thing to pull and view in our Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design department. To do this, I simply took note of the object's accession number and sent it in an email to one of my colleagues, with a note that said something along the lines of "Can I have a look at this poster?" My colleague quickly replied and told me that it would take a few days, but she scheduled me for a time to go up and check it out.
A few days went by, and she called me again to let me know it was ready. I ran up the stairs and entered the Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design Department, where the poster lay on a table for viewing in the Drue Heinz Study Center. She asked me to wash my hands and allowed me to have an up close and personal viewing of the poster. I looked it over for a few minutes and then said "thanks!"
She then turned to me and said "is that all?" to which I replied "yes, thanks so much, I just wanted to have a look at an actual object in our collection. So far all I've seen is stuff on our website." She looked at me a little funny, and replied "well, that's fine, its just that in all the years I've worked here, you're the first person who has ever done that!"
I was a little surprised by this. Maybe its because the collection online was sort of small, and probably primarily used by a few causal browsers to the site, I'm not really sure. But it got me thinking about things a little.
These days things are a bit different. We now have over 100,000 objects in our online collection. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to do some a new search for "poster" now that more things are online, and I've been amazed with what I've found.
We have some really incredible posters from a really wide variety of genres. I created a Pinterest board to collect a few of my favorites which you are free to follow.