Bacco is the Italian name for Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and intoxication. The legendary festivals in his honor were devoted to wild drinking, freedom, and sexual promiscuity, and the word Bacchanalia has become synonymous with orgy. However, scholars debate the specifics of these events and are left with limited resources for interpretation.

The cultural revolution of the 1960s was equally interested in the pursuit of ecstasy and required a mobile libation station that could keep up with the party. Sergio Mazza, a founder of the Italian design firm Artemide, created this cocktail cabinet on castors with molded plastic wells to hold liquor bottles and ice. In the museum environment and without its bar accessories, it can be difficult to picture this object as a significant artifact of its time, but innovative plastic furniture was an influential part of the 1960s aesthetic. Newly found freedoms were represented in the streamlined and seamless shapes made possible by injection-molding and the resilient surface of this cabinet would be easy to clean if cocktail hour turned rowdy.

In the conservation lab the process of removing dirt and accretion begins by determining what type of plastic the object is made of so specialized cleaning systems can be developed. While examining the Bacco for treatment, conservators noticed that this example does not have a glass top over the central well as a surface for resting drinks, as seen in some period images. Collaborative work has begun between curators and conservators to investigate options for replacing the glass panel.


Kate Wight is an Objects Conservator and former glassblower passionate about preserving artifacts of every kind. She recently completed a conservation survey of the plastic objects in the CHSDM collection. Kate also works on archeological excavations in Egypt and Turkey.

One thought on “A Modern Bacchanalia

This cocktail cabinet would have been the place to collect, in one place, the all items for the owner’s party.The center well would have probably been the place to put their ice bucket. There was probably never a glass top, as the people would get their drink and move on to chat with others at the party. Spills, here, would be minimal.

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