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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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

Butterflies are free to let ones spirits fly

Posted by Sarah D. Coffin, on Sunday April 28, 2013

When I saw a few of these wonderful butterfly brooches while creating the checklist as curator of Cooper-Hewitt’s 2011 exhibition Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels two things came immediately to mind. The first was what perfect Cooper-Hewitt objects they were, as examples of jewelry design, and as examples of Japanese lacquerwork, a technique represented in the collection but not in jewelry.  The wonderful combination of historic techniques from two cultures combined to create a contemporary object appealed to me for the collection. 

butterfly, lacquer, diamonds, jewelry, inro, Van Cleef & Arpels, Set in Style, water, waves

The George Washington Monuments

Posted by Stephanie Keating, on Saturday April 27, 2013

By the time of his death in 1799, George Washington had become one of America’s first national heroes. This drawing is an example of one way the American public coped with the first President’s death: through mourning pictures.

George Washington, monuments, mourning pictures, English decorative arts, Potomac River, Mount Vernon, President, America, tombs, drawing, Architecture

The Effulgence of Country Gardens

Posted by Maleyne Syracuse, on Friday April 26, 2013

Jack Lenor Larsen (b.1927) is one of America’s most prolific and innovative 20th Century textiles designers. He came to prominence in the 1950s with his distinctive hand-woven casement fabrics for the commercial contract market. But he was not surprised to later become best known for his sumptuous printed fabrics like Primavera. For Larsen, it was all about color.

Jack Lenor Larsen, Don Wight, Gustav Klimt, velvet

The Best Possible View

Posted by Gail S. Davidson and Floramae McCarron-Cates, on Thursday April 25, 2013

Thomas Moran was one of the artists who in the mid-nineteenth century produced landscape images of the West that contributed to and reinforced the development of an American identity.   These views, however, were frequently constructed, edited, or manipulated to reinforce a sense of national pride and feeling of unity during and immediately following the Civil War.  This ethereal view of the famous site of Half Dome in Yosemite was based on Moran’s many sketches of the scene, drawings and photographs by other artists, as well as his recollections of his many visits ther

Thomas Moran, landscape, Thomas Cole, Yosemite, mountains, drawing, watercolor, etching


Posted by Ellen Lupton, on Wednesday April 24, 2013

How does a critic design textiles? With a typewriter, of course! Bernard Rudofsky was one of design’s great polymath thinkers. The exhibitions he organized in mid-century New York provoked designers to look at the world in new ways. Trained as an architect in his native Moravia (present day Austria), he was not licensed to practice architecture in the United States. He went on to have an enormously influential career as a curator, writer, critic, exhibition designer, and even fashion designer.

Bernard Rudofsky, New York, Schiffer Prints, typewriters, GRiD

Wallpapering your Floor

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Tuesday April 23, 2013

This parquet border design came into the collection with a group of wallpapers all produced during the late 19th century. And if memory serves me correctly, this group of papers was found in San Francisco which means they survived the great earthquake and fire of 1906 which devastated the city. This was a diverse group of papers ranging from high-end block printed designs to more inexpensive mass-produced machine-printed designs. This roll of paper belonged to the latter group. It was printed in very few colors on very thin paper with a wood pulp composition.

Parquet, border, wallpaper, woodgrain

Fancy French Furniture

Posted by Stephen H. Van Dyk, on Monday April 22, 2013

Le Garde-meuble, ancien et moderne (Furniture repository, ancient and modern), was a periodical consisting entirely of illustrations depicting French furniture, interiors, and window treatments.  It was published in Paris from 1839 to around 1935 originally under the direction of furniture designer Désir&eacut

Désiré Guilmard, Le Garde Meuble, Furniture -France, Interiors -France, Drapery-France, Smithsonian Libraries