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!

Subscribe to Cooper-Hewitt's Object of the Day by Email

The Bet on the Bagatelle

Posted by Sarah R. Donahue, on Wednesday May 08, 2013

Each of the objects depicted in this drawing was designed specifically for the Pavilion de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, in Paris, a royal pleasure palace. Though the andirons bear Queen Marie Antoinette’s initials these objects were not made for her, but rather for her brother-in-law, the Comte d’Artois. In 1777, in a one hundred thousand francs bet, the Queen challenged Artois to build a bagattella, meaning trifle or folly, in two months, just in time to receive the court returning to Paris from their summer sojourn at Fontainbleau.

Andiron, Sconce, bronze, Bagatelle, paris, drawing, Jean Démosthène Dugourc, François-Joseph Belanger

Marion Dorn's Zodiac

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Tuesday May 07, 2013

Zodiac by Marion Dorn (American, 1899-1964) is an early screen-printed wallpaper produced by the American firm Bassett & Vollum. Containing the 12 signs of the zodiac with six printed in brilliant colors and six overprinted in white outline, Zodiac is a large-scale design printed on a deep green, almost black ground. The bold coloring and strong lines are characteristic of Dorn’s work. Each zodiac sign is rendered in a simplistic manner and printed in a solid block of color, with only the most essential elements delineated.

Marion Dorn, zodiac, astrology, screen-print

Polychromed Plumes

Posted by Elizabeth Broman, on Monday May 06, 2013

During the last quarter of the 19th century, feather decoration for hats, fans, and boas was at its peak; in 1886, 77% of women’s hats were decorated with feathers and a milliner’s window had a display of colorful ostrich tips and plumes. They were used not only on hats, but were also used in trimming dresses, wraps, and to a large extent used in making exotic fans.

Smithsonian Libraries, ostrich feathers, Alexander Paul, millinery, Victorian fashion, Godey's Lady's book, Peterson's Magazine
Sample pages of dyed ostrich feathers

The Obsidian Serpent

Posted by Kimberly Randall, on Sunday May 05, 2013

There are hundreds of embroidered samplers in the Textiles Department – they are a collection strength spanning several centuries and many countries. My favorite samplers are those from Mexico for they often show the convergence of European and indigenous cultures in their motifs and designs. While there are a number of beautiful samplers from Mexico, only one has an intriguing figure known as the Obsidian Serpent.

Mexico, samplers

A Frequently Asked Question

Posted by Gail S. Davidson, on Saturday May 04, 2013

This view of Frederic Edwin Church’s home Olana outside Hudson, New York is one of 2,035 oil sketches and graphite drawings by Church in Cooper-Hewitt’s collections.   The Church archive represents the largest collection of the artist’s works on paper in the world!  Church was one of the most prominent figures in the Hudson River School, the only student of the movement’s founder Thomas Cole.   Church’s breathtaking and luminous depictions of landscapes both in America and abroad have earned him the status as one of the most beloved art

Frederic Edwin Church, Olana, landscape, Hudson River School, Thomas Cole, gardens

Original Poster

Posted by Micah Walter, on Friday May 03, 2013

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).

James Dyson: Designing Out Annoyances

Posted by Rebecca McNamara, on Thursday May 02, 2013

For many of us, a glance at everyday appliances elicits a wince or a groan: they're dull looking, break easily and frequently, and never work quite as well as we'd like. Our lives are full of minor annoyances that we try, often unsuccessfully, to ignore. But when James Dyson is annoyed by an appliance, he doesn't ignore it; he embraces it, seeing in a product’s shortcomings the opportunity to create something better, that will work (well), look cool, and surpass all similar devices.

Vacuum cleaner, James Dyson, DC-07, Industrial Design, appliances

Preserving the Perfect Fit

Posted by Kira Eng-Wilmot, on Wednesday May 01, 2013

Anyone who has scuffed their brand new sneakers can attest to the difficulty of keeping shoes in good condition. One of the best ways that Cooper Hewitt’s conservation department can ensure the preservation of the collection is through proper storage. Take for instance the recently acquired pair of Nike FlyKnit Racer shoes.  While the sneakers are new, it is our responsibility to create storage that will support and protect in order to best slow deterioration and preserve their current state.

nike, Flyknit Racer, running shoe, knitting, conservation, storage, textile
Nike Flyknit racer, designed by Ben Shaffer, manufactured by Nike, Inc.  Photo courtesy of Nike.

Like Gloves for the Walls

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Tuesday April 30, 2013

Embossed and gilt leather hangings were one of the earliest known wallcoverings. Frequently referred to as Spanish leather, these wallcoverings were widely made across Europe. This example dates to the mid-18th century and is designed in the Rococo style as can be seen in the scrolling diaper or trellis framework and the asymmetrical arrangements of the floral bouquets. Always one of the most costly wallcoverings available, gilt leathers have never totally fallen out of fashion and new leather can still be purchased today.

leather, embossing, silver gilt, rococo, floral bouquet

Dancing, Chanting and Music: The Noh Robe

Posted by Nadia Vanek, on Monday April 29, 2013

When I first saw this Noh robe I thought about the changing of seasons, though not the change from winter to spring that I am eagerly anticipating at the moment. The robe’s colorful brocaded chrysanthemums remind me of the beginning of autumn. The robe conjures images of the chrysanthemum’s overwhelming beauty during the Japanese fall celebration, kiku matsuri.

Noh, theater, Japan, autumn, costume