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

Napoleon's Other Wife

Posted by Sarah R. Donahue, on Monday March 11, 2013

Though most people only know of his first wife Joséphine, Napoleon I of France was married twice during his lifetime. Napoleon and Joséphine were married on March 9, 1796. Their marriage was a strained one, due to Napoleon’s extensive travel and their inability to have children. Though their correspondence shows that they had once cared for one another, by 1809, Napoleon was looking to divorce Joséphine and wed another woman who could offer him money and children.

Napolean, Marie-Louise of Austria, embroidery design, commemorative

Birth of Venus

Posted by Christopher Chitris, on Sunday March 10, 2013

The reason I chose this wallcovering by Teresa Kilham was due to the mythology behind this piece. As a child I was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology. I was so fascinated by all the different gods and goddesses. The gods portrayed in this piece, Neptune and Venus are largely involved in the ocean which I have also loved my whole life. When I was younger my favorite mythological god was Aphrodite due to her strange "birth." The story behind her birth is that she rose from the sea foam in a seashell.

Venus, shell, wallpaper, sea, Neptune

Keeping Warm: A Pennsylvania Coverlet

Posted by Kimberly Randall, on Saturday March 09, 2013

The American woven coverlet presents an appealing visual record of the patterns and designs of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The seemingly simple geometric elements come together in a boldly graphic way that resonates with many collectors today. This particular coverlet, acquired by Cooper-Hewitt in 2010, was most likely made before the arrival of the Jacquard attachment – a special mechanical loom component from France that was made of a series of punched cards. Invented in 1806, it was widely available in the United States by the early 1820s.

coverlet, Jacquard, Pennsylvania, woven, snowball, pine tree

Flower Power

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Friday March 08, 2013

Love in Bloom is a beautifully designed wallpaper that speaks of the period during which it was made. The differing shades of taupe printed in transparent colors on the reflective Mylar foil ground create a great sense of depth. Produced in 1968, it speaks very strongly of the Flower Power movement, of peace in turbulent times, as well as the use of new materials.

wallpaper, Mylar, screenprint, peace, floral, flowers

Before There Were Ring Tones There Were Rings

Posted by Cynthia Trope, on Thursday March 07, 2013

If you grew up in America in the mid-1950s-70s, you no doubt encountered the Model 500 telephone or one of its variants in almost every home or workplace you entered. The model 500 became the standard desk-style phone in the U.S., with over 93 million units produced for homes and offices between 1949 and the divestiture of AT&T (the Bell System) in 1984.

Telephone, Model 500, Henry Dreyfuss, Bell Telephone Laboratories, Western Electric Manufacturing Company, Industrial Design

Art Deco: Cubism and Classical Tradition

Posted by Terry Ryan, on Wednesday March 06, 2013

If  c.1900 - 1914 the international avant-garde held sway over the cultural life of Paris, the period immediately following World War I -- often referred to as the "return to order" --  saw a renewal of French cultural values -- that is, "tradition" and, of course, "Classicism."  When these values in design were touched by the lingering spirit of the avant-garde, the result was one of the most successful and admired styles of the 20th century:  Art Deco.

Terry Ryan, Art Deco, Louis Sue, Andre Mare, Architectures, National Design Library, Cubism, La Compagnie dea Arts Francais, Paul Valery
Architectures by Sue et Mare, Tome Premier

The Union Forever

Posted by Susan Brown, on Monday March 04, 2013

Today marks the 148th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which closed “With malice toward none, with charity for all… let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds...” This delicate design of floral wreaths encircling womanly hands clasped in friendship seems to embody the ideal of reconciliation set forth by the President as he entered his second term of office, just a few weeks before his assassination.

Abraham Lincoln, abolition, Civil War, campaigns, Lincoln’s second inaugural

Roche Mail

Posted by Stephen H. Van Dyk, on Sunday March 03, 2013

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), a painter of flora and fauna, was one of the first naturalists to have observed insects directly from nature.  She was a pioneer in the study of how caterpillars become butterflies and moths, which was still a mystery at the time. Her large folio volume http://archive.org/details/Metamorphosisin00Meri  depicting on its first plate Cockroaches on a Flowering Pineapple (above), was considered the most outstanding work on insects of its day. 

botanical illustration, insects, U.S. postal stamps, Maria Sibylla Merian

Pulsating Life

Posted by Alison Charny, on Saturday March 02, 2013

Gunta (Aldegunde) Stölzl is known for her weaving and teaching at the Bauhaus. Her compelling textile designs, which play on line and color, appeal as independent artworks in themselves.

Gunta (Aldegunde) Stölzl, Bauhaus, textile design, drawing, watercolor, World War I, Germany, Color

Amusing and Decorative Wallpaper

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Friday March 01, 2013

While Steinberg trained as an architect he is best known for his satirical cartoons in The New Yorker. He began drawing shortly after enrolling in college and had his first cartoon published in The New Yorker in 1941, and even after joining the US Navy in 1943 he continued sending in cartoons from his various stations across Europe. Over the span of his career he was given 85 covers and had 642 illustrations published in The New Yorker.

Steinberg, horses, wallpaper, circus, military, uniform