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Monday, August 15, 2011

The glamour of working at a small museum

by Eunice Haugen

Like any small organization, one often plays many roles and job descriptions can include lots of schlepping. Museum work is no different. The other day a load of archival tubes I had ordered for a textiles storage project arrived. Great, I had been waiting for over a month for these! They came by truck in two cartons each over 10 ft long. Since there was only one driver with the truck, I assisted him in getting them off the truck and into the building. The truck driver asked me what was in the cartons, "tubes" I replied. "tubes of what?" he asked, "tubes of nothing" I replied, he laughed. Truck drivers are often amused by what people at museums order and do and ship around the country.

The next task was how to get the tubes from the 1st floor up to the 2nd? McNeal Hall is less than user friendly when it comes to moving large objects from floor to floor, which is a challenge for a museum located on the 2nd floor. Our freight elevator is smaller than some passenger elevators and within the last year they have closed off the access directly from the dock, making for approximately another 50-60 feet to access the elevator-- thank goodness for the invention of the wheel. Next, the test, would the tubes fit in the elevator? Yes, if you remove them from the carton. We were able to place four tubes at an angle and travel up one floor, remove the tubes and back down for four more. There were around 56 tubes and 14 trips up and down the elevator. Now there was a large pile of tubes on the floor outside the freight elevator. So my trusty co-worker and I schlepped the empty boxes up the stairs, reloaded the tubes and wheeled down the hall to their final resting place. All in the day of a museum worker and I do it all for art!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Phase two of Design for Everyone

By Lin-Nelson Mayson

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As the Goldstein Museum of Design (GMD) is set to celebrate 35 years this November, GMD was recently awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for Phase 2 of its digital database: Design for Everyone: Increasing Access to Collections. Under Phase 1, all collection records were moved to a new database and approximately 10%, or over 2,100 objects, were photographed. Many objects were photographed from different views, resulting in over 12,000 images. In Phase 2, approximately the same number of objects will be photographed. The resulting digital catalog of the collection will be accessible through GMD's website.

Doily with crewel embroidery, no. 1980.060.005

GMD's collection is unique among academic design collections for its range and depth. The impact of this ongoing digital database project will be to provide detailed visual access to the college's important resource. Since many of GMD's collection objects are constructed of textiles or paper, both which can be damaged by handling and light, the photographs were taken with very high resolution, enabling close inspection - at the thread level on some items. In addition, since GMD's galleries feature rotating exhibitions, the database will become the collection gallery, showcasing the range of the collection from furniture to graphic design to fashion.

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Goblet chair, Eero Saarinen, 1957-1963, no. 0000.026.245

GMD will hold its 35th anniversary event on November 4th, from 5:30-9:30 PM, at International Market Square, 275 Market Street, in Minneapolis. To get involved, or for more details on the event and everything happening at GMD, visit them online at:

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Evening dress, Karl Lagerfeld, no. 2004.019.029

Monday, August 8, 2011

American costume jewelry

by Laura Marsolek

While the Goldstein Museum of Design has a significant collection of clothing, a little known fact is that there is also a wonderful collection of jewelry. I'm Laura, the summer intern at GMD and I work with the jewelry collection. Some of my favorite pieces in the collection are rhinestone jewelry from the 1930's-1950's sold at department stores such as Dayton's.

no. 1997.000.087a-b

Sandor Goldberger designed this lovely pair of gold tone and blue enamel flower pins. A large sky blue rhinestone peeks from the center of the flower bud and is set in place by tiny enameled blue petals. Extending from the bud are clear rhinestones and four large leaves, delicately enameled in tones of blue. Naturalistic enameling was Goldberger's specialty. Goldberger founded the company in the 1930's and is widely credited with being the first designer to offer enameling in costume jewelry designs.

c. 1940's, no. 2004.033.039

This piece is a signature CoroCraft Duette of two owl brooches with piercing faceted green rhinestone eyes and green enamel accents. Coro began as a partnership between Emanuel Cohn (the "Co") and Carl Rosenberg (the "ro"). The two produced jewelry in New York in 1901 under the marks Coro, Corocraft, and Vendome. CoroCraft was one of Coro's higher priced lines, most famous for their duet pieces and jewelry that is interchangeable. This particular piece comes with two identical owl brooches with hinged pins on the reverse that can be used separately or clipped to a frame so the two become one brooch. One can even see the CoroCraft signature and Pegasus along with the patent number stamped on the back.

1950-1955, no. 2000.040.003a-d

CoroCraft was known for their quality, however Trifari jewelry trumps all costume jewelry designers with quality. The Goldstein is lucky to have a complete Trifari set. In fact, the donor purchased it at Dayton's in Minneapolis in the early 1950's. Trifari was founded in the early 1910's by Gustavo Trifari, the Italian-immigrant son of a Napoli goldsmith. But it was Alfred Philippe who gave Trifari its signature style in the 1930's. The necklace, a close fitting collar to accentuate the neck, has precisely set baguette and pave stones. Today, Trifari jewelry is highly collectible and we recognize the brand by the iconic signature Trifari and crown stamp.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Unfinished work

Sometimes my job involves putting on white cotton gloves and going into storage to look for objects. If I have a description of the object (and not just the catalog number), my job is easier, but if there is no description of the object I have to look at each number in order to find what I'm looking for. Recently, I've been working with textiles that are laid flat, which means I often have to take the pieces out in order to find the correct number. During this process, I get to look at beautiful and diverse objects, which may be the best part of my job.

cream silk embroidered with scene of women in a garden, no. 2010.023.005

I recently stumbled upon this embroidered yardage and was intrigued. The fabric is intricately embroidered with scenes of women in a garden, which is lovely enough in itself. The embroidered parts were meant to be cut out and stitched onto a garment. Some of the pieces were meant to be armbands and the others presumably were meant to be attached to other areas of a garment.


Part of why this piece is interesting is that it was never finished. There are ink pen lines indicating where more stitching would have occurred. Looking at a finished product, it can be difficult to imagine how it was made. The ink lines serve as a reminder that someone made this and show some of the steps that normally would be obscured.