unless it pleases you

Cut Paper, Noah's Ark, 1982, Designed  by Ernst Oppliger

Cut Paper, Noah’s Ark, 1982, Designed by Ernst Oppliger

There might be something decadent about coveting objects.  After a three year renovation, The Cooper Hewitt Museum opened this week: as museums go, it’s not too big, it’s full of stuff and is housed in a restored mansion, with garden, on Fifth Avenue.  The “new” Cooper Hewitt has entered the 21st. century with interactive computer screens, opportunities for the visitor to design objects using cutting edge software and an

Parasol Cover, France, ca. 1880

Parasol Cover, France, ca. 1880

immersion room. There are still objects.  Objects are organized for their color, line, texture  or material.  It’s up to you to put it all together.  The exhibits are sprinkled with quotes, which turn your thinking upside down.

“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”  Dorothea Lang


A group clothespins


“What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we have ever come up with.  It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”  Steve Jobs

“One lives only to make BLUNDERS.”  Charles Darwin

Stick navigation chart, before 1950

Stick navigation chart, before 1950

CAPTION for NAVIGATION CHART:  Knowledge gained over generations by acute observation and experiencing the ocean’s behavior is visualized before a voyage, these charts mapped ocean swells and currents, as well as relative distances between islands. The combination of straight, curved, and intersecting lines resembles the visual language of grid maps.

Or something as simple as the design for Harry's razor.

Or something as simple as the design for Harry’s razor.

For the opening, Maria Kalman was invited to be a guest curator of one room in the museum. She sets the stage for the rest of the exhibitions at the museum.

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 ephermera 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

Two objects Maria Kalman has put together

Two objects Maria Kalman has put together

It is about the preciousness of time. Elusive. Fragile.  The unpredictability of it all. The comfort derived within the unpredictability.  The job derived from the 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…

If you are curious, have a lock at the objects.

To wander about in a room in a museum and 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.

-Maria Kalman


2 East 92 Street
NY,NY 101028
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