Washboards, armchairs, lamps, and pots and pans may not seem to be museum pieces. But they are invaluable evidence of how most people lived day to day, last week or three centuries ago. The Museum's collections of domestic furnishings comprise more than 40,000 artifacts from American households. Large and small, they include four houses, roughly 800 pieces of furniture, fireplace equipment, spinning wheels, ceramics and glass, family portraits, and much more.
The Arthur and Edna Greenwood Collection contains more than 2,000 objects from New England households from colonial times to mid-1800s. From kitchens of the past, the collections hold some 3,300 artifacts, ranging from refrigerators to spatulas. The lighting devices alone number roughly 3,000 lamps, candleholders, and lanterns.
"Domestic Furnishings - Overview" showing 1 items.
- The bony substance from the mouths of whales known as baleen is formed of keratin, like human hair and nails. It hangs in long, parallel sheets from the upper jaws of the blue, right, and minke whales, as well as other lesser-known species. Its hairy fringe filters food from seawater.
- Dried out, baleen’s strength and flexibility made it ideal for buggy whips, corset busks, and umbrella ribs before the advent of plastic. A whale’s bone could actually be worth more than its oil. This man’s large umbrella has a wooden shaft, heavy hinged baleen ribs made in short sections, and an ivory handle. Marked “G. Hobbs, Barre,” it belonged to the donor’s grandfather, who lived in Barre, Massachusetts, until around the end of the Civil War.
- Date made
- ca 1835-1865
- Hobbs, George
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center