Visual Description | Object Project
Unlike other exhibits at the museum, the 4,000-square-foot Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project is not contained within an enclosed space, but sits in the middle of a large open area in front of a wall of windows. This allows you to walk all the way around the exhibit and to enter it at multiple points along the way. The design of the exhibit is unique; it features a large central structure made of individual object cases stacked on top of each other, rising all the way up to the ceiling. At either end of this structure, cases extend overhead, giving the whole space the feel of a treasure chest whose contents have exploded up into the air and now hang suspended, waiting to be discovered. The space is surrounded by low curved walls and benches with built-in activities, including some objects that talk.
Toilet bowl, about 1900
The toilet bowl is displayed about 5 feet off the ground in a large case with a vibrant orange background. It is part of a larger display of household innovations that changed everyday life. The toilet is similar to a modern toilet in its size and its white, glazed ceramic surface, but it differs from modern toilets in that it is highly decorated with a raised floral pattern. Swirling leaves and vines climb up the base of the bowl, and a repeating design of scrolled leaves surrounds the rim. To the left-hand side of the case are three backlit green arrows in green circles. These are buttons that, when touched, activate one of the objects in the cases. The middle button—labelled Indoor Plumbing/Toilet Bowl, around 1900—activates an audio of the sound this toilet would make when it was flushed, and five to six gallons of water dashed into the bowl.
Microwave oven, 1974
This microwave oven is displayed only six inches off the floor, in a case with a vibrant orange background. Surrounding cases contain other household innovations. The microwave is shaped like a rectangular box; the top, back, and sides are smooth and white. The front has a narrow black control panel on the right side and a shiny silver door on the left.
At the very top of the control panel in silver lettering are the words, “Radarange made only by Amana.” Directly below this is a silver metal tab that protrudes from a slot; it slides back and forth so the user can choose one of three settings—on, automatic, or defrost. Below this is a circular dial with a white background, red needle, and black markings. This is a timer that can be set for cooking times measured in seconds, up to five minutes. Below the dial are three rectangular buttons. The green button on the far left is the “start” button and the red button in the middle is the “stop” button. The button on the right is white and turns a light in the oven on and off. There is another dial below these buttons; this is a second timer for cooking times up to 30 minutes.
The door has a silver handle and a translucent window through which one can view food as it cooks. The entire front of the microwave is trimmed in shiny, silver metal. To the left of the display case is a backlit green arrow enclosed in a green circle. This is a button that, when touched, activates a light inside the microwave that reveals a fully distended bag of microwave popcorn.
Celebrating New Freedoms
Sheet music, 1890s – 1910s
This piece of sheet music sits approximately seven feet off the ground in the bottom right corner of a case with a lime-green background; it is displayed with seven other pieces of sheet music. This piece has a highly decorated cover and is a fairly standard size for sheet music. All the text is in a swirling, gothic script with floral embellishments.
The title of the song is “Angel Grace and the Crimson Rim.” It was published in 1895. In the center of the cover is an image of a young woman on a bicycle, with a caption reading “Miss Minnie Olive Bridges.” The red rims of the bike’s wheels are the only color on the cover. The cyclist is wearing a long, dark pinstriped skirt; white mid-calf boots; an open, dark-colored jacket; a white, collared shirt; and a hat. She looks playfully back over her shoulder as she rides along a dirt road. Looking at the slight smile on her face, the viewer can imagine the jaunty tune contained within the booklet, recounting the tale of a man who is entranced by a woman who rides past on her bicycle.
Sewing machine and tools for cutting stacks of fabric, 1920s
This 1920s Singer sewing machine is displayed approximately two and a half feet off the ground in a case with a rich purple background. Objects in surrounding cases relate to the phenomenon of ready-to-wear clothes. In the same case that contains the sewing machine are two tools for cutting stacks of fabric. The three items are arranged in a vertical line, with the sewing machine in the middle. The sewing machine is mostly black and made of metal. It is a little over one foot long and about one foot tall. The black, metal body is a fairly standard sewing machine design, consisting of a flat, rectangular base with an arm that extends up vertically from the right side and then bends to hang out horizontally over the left side. The arm ends in a needle attached to a feeder foot through which cloth could be passed to help guide the stitches. On top of the vertical part of the arm is a small wheel that can be turned to adjust the machine, and on top of the horizontal part of the arm sit two silver spindles onto which users could place bobbins of thread that would then be fed down and through the needle. There are several small knobs made of silver metal on the arm that adjust various parts of the machine. The Singer name is in gold lettering across the horizontal piece of the arm, and there are a few holes on different parts of the arm where it is indicated in gold lettering that oil can be inserted to lubricate the machinery. Close to the bottom of the arm is an oblong plate made of silver metal and bearing the number “95-10.” Beneath that is an oval seal made of silver metal and bearing the Singer trademark. Both the plate and the seal are riveted to the machine.
Department Store Shopping
Cash register, 1919
This cash register is displayed approximately two and a half feet off the ground. It sits inside a case with a rich purple background and objects in surrounding cases relate to the phenomenon of ready-to-wear clothes. The cash register rests atop a raised platform that is approximately five inches tall. The cash register itself is approximately two feet tall and one and a half feet wide. It has an ornate brass exterior with embossed scrollwork embellishments surrounding each functional part of the machine. Spanning the entire width of the top of the cash register is a black rectangular bar. The bar features a white outline of a hand making a pointing gesture with its index finger and two sale-related readouts. One readout contains an orange rectangle on which the words “no sale” are printed in black. The other contains three large, white zeros with a decimal point after the first zero and the words “dollars” and “cents” written in white lettering above. Below this section of the cash register is a decorative gold panel with a keyhole in the center. Beneath that, moving from left to right, is a box containing receipt paper, a vertical row of multicolored buttons, two vertical rows of red buttons, and two vertical rows of white buttons. The multicolored buttons are, from top to bottom: an orange button that says “no sale” in black lettering, a white button that says “cash” in black lettering, a yellow button that says “R. on acc’t” in black lettering, a red button that says “charge” in white lettering, and a blue button that says “paid out” in white lettering. The two rows of red buttons feature prices in white lettering. The left-hand row reads, “$10, $20, $30, $40, $50, $60, $70, $80, $90,” and the right-hand row reads “$1, $2, $3, $4, $5, $6, $7, $8, $9.” The two rows of white buttons feature the same numbers in black lettering without dollar signs. Below the panels of buttons, the cash drawer runs the width of the register. There is a keyhole in the top center and the word “National” is written in raised gold lettering across the center of the drawer. Peeking out from under the cash drawer is a wooden base. Centered on the front edge of the base is a tarnished plaque that reads, “The National Cash Register Co. Dayton Ohio U.S.A.” The platform that the cash register sits on rotates when you press the illuminated arrow button under the case.
Paper dolls, 1920s-1940s
These paper dolls and clothes are displayed in a case that sits only five inches off the floor. They are lined up horizontally inside the case against a rich purple background. Objects in surrounding cases relate to the phenomenon of ready-to-wear clothes. The dolls stand approximately one foot tall and are about three inches wide. There are two dolls in the case, positioned at either end of the row with five outfit options lined up in between them. The doll on the left is a female figure with blond hair and fair skin, wearing a blue slip. Her hair is set in a waved bob and she is wearing blue shoes. The doll on the right is also a female figure with dark brown hair and fair skin. She is wearing a red slip. Her hair is also bobbed and her shoes are red to match her slip. The outfits are “flapper” fashions and from left to right consist of a green, knee-length daytime dress with long sleeves; a blue, floor-length evening dress; a black coat with a brown fur collar and cuffs; a navy coat with a white fur collar; and a light pink, knee-length daytime dress with long sleeves. Each outfit has several tabs along the edges to help affix it to a doll.
A Clean Sweep
Hoover vacuum, 1927
This Hoover vacuum is displayed in a case with a bright, mustard yellow background about two and a half feet off the floor. Surrounding cases contain other household convenience items. The vacuum is mounted on a metal rod to allow it to hover about three inches above a rectangular mirror, giving viewers a peek at the metal rotating cylinder that created Hoover’s famous suction. The entire vacuum is about three and a half feet long. The base is made of silver metal, the handle is silver and black, and the cloth dust bag is burgundy. The cord wraps around two hooks spaced about a foot and a half apart on the handle. An orange label in the shape of a downward-facing arrow on the metal base is held in place by three metal rivets and reads, “The Hoover Cleaner, It beats as it sweeps as it cleans,” in black lettering. Smaller black letters in between the words “Hoover” and “Cleaner” read, “Reg U.S. Pat Off.” A white rectangular label further up toward the stem of the handle bears a green logo with white lettering that says, “Brother” and green lettering which reads, “Sewing machine of Washington, Inc. ‘Specialists in Sewing Machines and Vacuums’ 6334 New Hampshire Ave Takoma Park, Md.” There is also a rectangular box outlined in green on the label containing the numbers 270-1155. White lettering on the cloth dust bag reads, “DVC brand for Hoover,” with “Hoover” written vertically.
Play Set, 1950s
This kitchen playset is displayed approximately five feet off the ground in a case with a light blue background. Surrounding cases contain items related to refrigeration and how it changed American households. The playset itself is slightly raised off the bottom of the case by a light blue, rectangular platform. The playset is made predominately of metal and is approximately two feet long and a little less than one foot tall. It consists of one wall of a pretend kitchen. In the center of the wall is an illustration of a window framed with red gingham curtains that looks out over a green yard with trees. Small pots of tomatoes grow on the sill. To either side of the window are actual, miniature white shelving units which are open and contain one shelf in the middle of each rectangular unit. The shelves are covered in red gingham. Below, and moving across the set from left to right, are a tall, narrow white pantry cabinet with a red handle; a white, four-burner range with chrome and red finishes; a chrome sink with red surround and fixtures and some white cabinets underneath; a white dishwasher with chrome and red finishes; and a white refrigerator with a red handle. The chrome control panel on the front of the dishwasher reads, “Automatic” in red cursive letters and has one large red knob, above which is written “on” and “off.” The lower center cabinet features the red dot logo and silver lettering of the “Pretty Maid” brand. A red radio on the wall is illustrated to the immediate right of the window. A small amount of blue laminate flooring peeks out from underneath the cabinets and appliances.
Bicycle racing medals, 1883-1897
This medal, dated 1897, is one of three displayed approximately four feet off the ground in a case with a lime green background. It sits atop a small metal rod mount on the far left side of the case, along with two other medals. The medal is circular and approximately one and three-fourths inches in diameter. It is made of a gold-colored metal and is inscribed with the words, “League of American Wheelmen,” in raised capital lettering across the top edge. Below the lettering is the raised relief of a standing classical female figure, loosely draped in a long piece of fabric that is clasped in her upheld right hand so that it falls in folds across her legs. Both the cloth and the woman’s hair billow out behind her in a way that suggests wind or movement. In her outstretched left hand she holds an hourglass and a laurel crown, representing victory in a race. On the lower right-hand side of the medal is the symbol of the League of American Wheelmen; three single wings radiating out from a central point with the letters “L,” “A,” and “W” in each of the three spaces between the wings, all of which is enclosed in a raised circle. Under the case on the right-hand side, there is a button showing a backlit green arrow enclosed in a green circle. When touched, the button backlights an image across the back of the case showing a group of young men wearing racing medals and standing next to a bicycle.