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Amulet in the Form of a Ba as Human-Headed Bird. Reportedly from Saqqara, Egypt; Ptolemaic Period, 305?30 B.C.E. Gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise, steatite, 1¼ x 2 11/16 x ? in. (3.1 x 6.8 x 0.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.804E. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)
Worsham-Rockefeller Room, built ca. 1864-1865; remodeled ca. 1881. Moorish smoking room from the John D. Rockefeller House, 17 1/2 x 15 1/2 ft. (5.3 x 4.7 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and John D. Rockefeller III, 46.43. Creative Commons-BY
Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd. (founded 1759). Tray, Part of a Jasper Tea Service, circa 1785. Etruria, England. Tinted stoneware, 5 x 12 x 10 in. (12.7 x 30.5 x 25.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Gift of Emily Winthrop Miles, 61.199.69. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)
Alavoine of Paris and New York. Weil-Worgelt Study, ca. 1928-1930. Lacquer, glass, leather, veneered panels, 119 x 201 1/2 x 176 1/4 in. (302.3 x 511.8 x 447.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Raymond Worgelt, 70.23. Creative Commons-BY.
The Visible Storage/Study Center, The Luce Center for American Art installation view. Brooklyn Museum photograph.
The Visible Storage/Study Center, The Luce Center for American Art installation view. Brooklyn Museum photograph
Milligan Room
Sioux (Native American) artist. Tipi Bag or Possible Bag, circa 1860–1900. Plains, United States. Hide, beads, tin cones, horsehair, 15½ x 20½ in. (39.4 x 52.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum Collection, X1111.1. (Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum)

The Brooklyn Museum and Bard Graduate Center are entering a collaborative, multi-phase project aimed at re-thinking the presentation and study of American decorative arts.

Starting in fall 2017, Bard Graduate Center faculty and students and Brooklyn Museum curators will come together as a think tank to examine the collection, organization, display, and interpretation of the Brooklyn Museum’s extensive collection of American decorative arts, which will launch a series of courses on American decorative arts at the Brooklyn Museum, led by by Kevin Stayton, Curator Emeritus, along with Barry Harwood, Curator of Decorative Arts, among others.

Open to all students enrolled in Bard Graduate Center’s MA and PhD programs the course will serially study parts of the museum’s collection and will have as its outcome the redesign of the display of the decorative arts collection. The partnership will be an ongoing, collaborative project focusing on the Brooklyn Museum’s extensive, world-renowned collection of American decorative arts. In addition to the collaborative course, students and conservators will examine individual objects through the lens of BGC’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-supported “Cultures of Conservation” initiative. Students will continue their collections-based work through summer internships that further and expand on course research.

The project will culminate in a full-scale exhibition, curated, in part, by students, at the Brooklyn Museum on the work of Brooklyn craftsmen, makers, artisans, and artists, and their place in the history of decorative arts and design. Participating students will have an unparalleled opportunity to discover and study one of the country’s great American decorative arts collections. Ranging from the seventeenth century to the present, the collection includes silver, glass, ceramics, pewter, and furniture. An array of period rooms, installed on the museum’s fourth floor, spanning from 1675 to 1929, provides context for the collection, offering visitors a window into American culture and domestic life. The Luce Center for American Art, on the fifth floor, displays additional treasures from the collection.

“It is an exciting opportunity to have fresh eyes and insights on our world-renowned decorative arts collections,” says Anne Pasternak, Brooklyn Museum Shelby White and Leon Levy Director. “We are looking forward to training the next generation of curators and art historians.” Bard Graduate Center Founder and Director Susan Weber adds, “The Brooklyn Museum is one of the great museums in the United States. Its collections of American decorative arts are deep and superb. It is a privilege for our students and faculty to have the opportunity to explore this vast and still under-studied landscape alongside the museum’s curators and conservators.”