Greg HerringshawCan you explain a little bit about the type of work you do here at Cooper-Hewitt?
I am the Assistant Curator in charge of the Wallcoverings Department, a collection of over 10,000 pieces dating from the late 17th century to the present. I am responsible for the preservation of these pieces, ongoing research, and making the collection accessible to staff and scholars.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
One challenging part of my job is balancing the work that needs to be done with work I really enjoy doing. For example, I like working with historic houses around the country and helping solve wallpaper dilemmas. I have had queries from presidential homes, tenements, and jazz performers, as well as homeowners just trying to give their home a period look. Unfortunately, this can involve a lot of research, which I don’t always have time for, so I usually end up passing these queries onto my Master’s Fellow.

What do you enjoy most about your work? 
My favorite part of the job is working with the collection and being able to relate pieces to the social and political cultures they were designed to be used in, such as papers from the French Revolution or specific laws regarding the use of wallpaper in New York tenements.

How would you describe design? What is good design? Bad design?
Sometimes I think there is a fine line between good and bad design—“taste” is so subjective. But, I think good design is something that does what it is supposed to do, is easy to use, looks attractive, and is affordable. If no one can afford to use it, it’s not of much use.

Looking forward, what are you most excited about once the Museum reopens?
I am most excited about the new floor of exhibition space that will focus on collection objects. And, getting an office with a window!

What is your favorite Cooper-Hewitt exhibition to date? Why?
One of my all-time favorite exhibitions at the Cooper-Hewitt is the Fashioning Felt exhibition. I was fascinated by the diversity of the material, in both historic and contemporary uses. I love how contemporary designers are taking this ancient technique and making it appear so current. It was also beautifully displayed.

What was the most memorable moment for you at Cooper-Hewitt? 
I have had several memorable moments at the Coop. At the top of the list, however, is probably the moment when I was offered a permanent job after having worked as a contractor for two years—I always thought this was the greatest job. A close second would be working on the wallpaper exhibition, From Background to Foreground: Looking at an 18th Century Wallpaper.

Finally, if you could redesign anything, what would it be?
If I could change something, it would be to have more pattern and color—everywhere and on everything!

6 thoughts on “Meet the Staff: Greg Herringshaw

Hi Greg,

A British friend of mine Diane Gibbs has a question about wallpaper and I wondered if I could give her your email?

Hope all is well–Best wishes,


Hi — I have what I think is an old sample book of wallpaper that looks like wood veneers, in all kinds of colors. I’d love to send you a photo, and donate it if you would like it. The antiques appraiser wh looked at it said she’d never seen anything like it.

Thank you.

Mr. Herringshaw,
I have a mural, East of the Sun, from the hand drawn originals of Ilonka Karasz. It is in three parts, each of the three panels are 82″ H x 31 3/4″ W. Unfortunately, the mural has faded and either needs to be restored or replaced.
Caitlin Cordell said you may be able to advise me about who to speak to for conservation quotes or a new purchase. I would be happy to send you a photograph.
Your thoughts?
Thank you,
Carolyn Griffen

Dear Mr. Herringshawg,

I am a photographer enjoying using my printing skills to help folks hang large art prints in home and office. I use both my own art and, when possible, fine art from other sources, like a Rembrandt file from Mauritshuis in The Hague. Above, there is a note from Carolyn Griffen. She and her husband are very interested in replacing a copy mural (wallpaper on wood) that has been on display in their home since the 1970s—and has become somewhat faded. It is Karasz’s East of the Sun, and your amazing Cooper Hewitt has the original. Is it possible to obtain a high-resolution file (at least 200M per each of three panels) of this image for this art-loving couple? What would I need to do to obtain these three files?

Or is there another screen mural with this image already in existence and for sale?

Many thanks!

Neil Johnson
Neil Johnson Photography
Shreveport, LA

p.s. On your website, the “ArtResource” link for high-resolution requests is not working at this time.

Dear Mr. Herringshaw,

Your post today (10 Aug 2018) on “Delphiniums Inspire” contains a teensy error, in that the white flowers on the upper left side of the 1926 paper are foxgloves, not delphiniums (though delphiniums are available in white as well as blues.) Both flowers are old-fashioned perennials, and bloom around the same time if someone was out picking blooms in the back garden to make some drawings.

You might note that the Scheeling design of 1960-70 features proper white delphiniums, not foxgloves, though her turquoise colour is nowhere near the vivid real delphinium blue, which veers towards purple, not green — note little dabs of red in the 1926 original to bring up the intensity.

Thanks for the entertaining post!

Heidi Overhill

I am in possession of about (20) art nouveau original mural stencil designs.
Large in scale – the sheets range in size from 36″ square up to 48″ x 60″ in size.

They were printed on what I would call yellow trace primarily in orange tones.
Each has a label in German, some with the designers name. They have been folded.
All were printed in Leipzig, Germany and are all art nouveau in style.

Age: early 1910 – 1920 I think.

Triton, cupids, art nouveau females, figures on one side with the reverse side being border details and designs.

Technically not wallpaper, these were the predecessors and are way out side my personal realm in the antique vintage world.

If you have any interest in seeing photos and details, please let me know.
I am in the process of clearing out my inventory from my online shop. I could sell them via that avenue but believe someone would simply reproduce them rather than truly appreciate the history.


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