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 Joel's Blog

The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

11/13/2012

Every time I go to the Metropolitan I spend some time looking at the Luce study collection in the American Wing. My visit a few weeks ago with Ron Hock and Linda Rosengarten was no exception. For them, it was a first look. For me, it was also a first look as the collection is so massive that every trip I see something new. The study collection is just piles of furniture and other American decorative art that the museum doesn't have room to display in one of their formal galleries. It's all just stacked up behind glass walls for our perusal. Most of the furniture is unrestored - which means that you see all sorts of details. It's like walking through a used furniture shop - albeit one with really, really nice stuff.

The importance of the collection to anyone interested in making furniture cannot be overstated. Supposing you had the urge to make a painted wood chest. The first thing you should do is look at as many chests as possible. They must have twenty of them piled in for viewing. There are dozens of chairs, and bedsteads, some quite hideous, some amazing. Desks galore. Piled in is not only the famous Frank Lloyd Wright metal desk and chair but also a bunch of lesser metal and folding chairs from other makers. The glass shelving allows you to look at the piece from all angles. With every visit, something catches my eye and I learn something.

I wish they had a similar study collection for their non-American furniture. You should know that the Brooklyn Museum also has a study collection - smaller than the Met's, but still worth spending a lot of time with.
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11/13/2012 John Eugster
This summer my wife and I took our first visit in NYC and we spent hours at the Met and I took many pictures in this area of the museum. What a fascinating place! Nothing that even comes close to it here in Las Vegas -- if it's over 30 years old just blow it up and replace it! Thanks for jarring my memory of the culture and history that's sorely missing here in the desert.
11/14/2012 Paul B
It's not working at the moment but the Met website has a resources heading that leads to a free downloads section where you can find digital downloads of met publications. They have a number of good books on the history of American funiture.
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