Welcome. This room contains objects I chose from Cooper Hewitt's collection and several I borrowed from the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, along with a few of my own sprinkled in. What is this room about? Very loosely, it is about life and death. But isn’t everything? It is about falling in love with a group of objects. About the ephemera of history with bits of information about how people lived. It is a room that recognizes that many of the most important memories in your life will be populated by the most seemingly unimportant objects. A chair. A bowl. It is about the preciousness of time. Elusive. Fragile. The unpredictability of it all. The comfort derived within the unpredictability. The joy derived from comfort. These objects are brave and beautiful. They have survived and are here to tell you something. What should you do here? If you are plagued with doubts or troubles, or are in need of a respite, just sit there and stare into space and listen to the silence. That is more than enough. Or maybe someone will come into the room and sing a song about a spoon. Any songs you hear, about spoons or otherwise, are composed by the brilliant Nico Muhly. You never know. This was, in fact, once the music room in the mansion, when people lived here and had arguments in the kitchen (perhaps about overcooked peas). If you are curious, have a look at the objects. To wander about in a room in a museum is to have the fluttery feeling of discovery and potential. A quickening of the pulse. That is a great feeling. Excitement! Inspiration! But my advice is not to think too much. Unless it pleases you. And a walk in Central Park might be the perfect finale to a day in a museum. —Maira Kalman Maira Kalman Selects is made possible by the Marks Family Foundation Endowment Fund.
Following her visit to the 1925 Paris Exposition, Agnes Miles Carpenter ordered a group of Lobmeyr’s Ambassador glassware, presumably for use on the Jules Bouy–designed dining room furniture seen in drawings nearby. Designed by Oswald Haerdtl, the pieces helped define the era’s interest in sphere and cone forms. An American’s commission of an Austrian designer and company, shown in Paris, underscores not only the nexus of creative activity in Vienna’s cross-media design collaborations but also the exposure Paris gave them.