Object of the Day

Discover a different object from the Museum’s collection every day of the week!

Museum curators, conservators, and educators, as well as design enthusiasts like our teen Design Scholars, docents, and Master’s students, are sharing their favorite objects from Cooper-Hewitt’s incredible collection.

Many of these objects will be featured in the expanded collection galleries when Cooper-Hewitt reopens in 2014. Until then, “Object of the Day” is your uniquely-curated corner of the Museum!

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Balloon Mania

Posted by Megan Elevado, on Tuesday June 04, 2013

On August 27, 1783, the skies above the French commune of Gonesse were briefly darkened by a floating figure. The peasants, filled with fear by the unusual sight, shot down the hovering object and attacked it with pitchforks because they believed it was a monster. The “monster” was actually a hot air balloon. This scene of armed farmers surrounding a deflated balloon is one of the vignettes depicted on Le Ballon de Gonesse, a commemorative textile that captures the popularity of balloons in late eighteenth-century France. 

hot air balloons, Jean-Baptiste Marie Huet

O Love, Remember Me

Posted by Jennifer Johnson, on Monday June 03, 2013

Today marks the 138th wedding anniversary of Margaret and John Hoog, an event memorialized in this unusual sampler. While the majority of sampler makers were schoolgirls working to complete their needlework education, Margaret Hoog took needle in hand to commemorate her 1875 marriage. In the center of the sampler, instead of the usual alphabets, verse, or family history, she stitched a poignant message to her husband: “John the Hoog/O Love/Remember me/Margaret Hoog/Married 1875 June 3.”

sampler, immigration, marriage

A Crystal Palace

Posted by Stephen H. Van Dyk, on Sunday June 02, 2013

English publishers William Robert Dickinson (1815-1887), Lowes Cato Dickinson (1819-1908) and Gilbert Bell Dickinson (1825-1908) received a royal commission to compile this colorful folio commemorating Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations held in Hyde Park, London May to October, 1851. The folio includes 55 chromolithographic plates depicting the building and exhibitions of the fair reproduced from paintings by English watercolorists and lithographers Joseph Nash (1809-1878) and Louis Haghe (1806-1885) and Scottish painter David Roberts (1796-1864).

Smithsonian Libraries; World's Fairs; Crystal Palace; Exhibition Hall; Architecture -19th century

Functional Sculpture

Posted by Cynthia Trope, on Saturday June 01, 2013

Utilitarian object? Small-scale abstract sculpture? Both. When I first had the opportunity to investigate this lamp close up, I was struck by the way it’s form, composed of the simplest geometric shapes—circle, sphere, cylinder, cube, seemed to articulate a perfect balance between the functional and the artistic.

Piano lamp, Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud, W. H. Gispen, De Stijl, Bauhaus

The Glamour of the Gilded Age

Posted by Joanna Burgess, on Friday May 31, 2013

The end of the American Civil War saw the rise of the Gilded Age. A time of opulence for some and hardship for many, this era reached its heyday towards the end of the 1890s. From the salons and opera houses of Paris to the halls of the fine houses that lined Fifth Avenue, women’s fashions took a turn toward the modern. Where old and new money, adorned in fine silks and exquisitely beaded attire rubbed shoulders over fine wine and respectable conversation, women’s fashion blossomed.

Gilded Age, fan, putti

Discover Architecture- Carry A Magnet!

Posted by Elizabeth Broman, on Thursday May 30, 2013

On a long ago walking tour of downtown New York, I was charmed and mystified to see people pulling refrigerator magnets or little alphabet letters out of their pockets and having them cling to the deceptively ordinary front of a building! They stuck!

Cast iron architecture, Daniel Badger, Architectural Iron Works of the city of New York, Illustrations of iron architecture, Soho Cast Iron District, cast iron, Smithsonian Libraries, National Design Library
Illustrations of iron architecture by Daniel Badger

Inside wonders: A Japanese pattern book

Posted by Jen Cohlman Bracchi, on Wednesday May 29, 2013

Patterns found in nature have influenced human creativity for millennia and continue to inspire designers today. Can you guess what natural forms were used to create the designs in this pattern book?

Published in Kyoto by Unsōdō in 1913, its bold calligraphic lines, sweeping curves, and organic forms share characteristics with both Japan’s Rinpa and Europe’s Art Nouveau movements.  However, these shapes were derived in a new and unique way by a scientist, not a designer.

pattern book, Japan, shells
various patterns made from the cross sections of seashells

Wallpaper that Expands Your Horizons

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Tuesday May 28, 2013

Wide landscape friezes were popularized by Walter Crane in 1896 and remained in vogue until around 1913. The use of these friezes led to a more simplified wall treatment in the Mission interior, and even though multiple patterns were still being used on a wall, the frieze became the dominant element. Wide friezes were usually hung at the top of the wall where the perspective shown in the landscapes visually expanded the size of the room.

wallpaper, frieze, landscape, repeat, mission

If I were a carpenter

Posted by Elizabeth Broman, on Monday May 27, 2013

Title translation: A representation of Inland and Foreign Wood: As well Trees as [sic] Shrubs Which are Collected by the Lovers of Natural History in Their Cabinets of Natural Curiosities for Use and Pleasure. According to Their Inward Properties and Natural  Colors  ...

Jan Christian Sepp, Smithsonian Libraries, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Library, Wood samples, marquetry, Veneer
jan Christian Sepp, Icones lignorum exoticorum

Dining Under the Stars

Posted by Alison Charny, on Sunday May 26, 2013

Joseph Urban’s design for the Roof Garden at the Hotel Gibson in Cincinnati, Ohio, reflects turn of the century summer-dining at its finest. Late-nineteenth century American roof gardens were inspired by European pleasure gardens, often devoted to entertainment.  New York producer, composer, and entrepreneur Rudolph Aronson is credited with not only bringing the roof garden to the United States, but also making it a place for entertainment as well as for food and drink.