Unusual Objects from Americas Past
Go on Display at DAR Museum March 10
WASHINGTON, DC The DAR Museum will showcase some of its strangest and most intriguing collection items in the exhibition, "Obsolete, Odd and Absolutely Ooky Stuff from the DAR Museum Vaults," on display from March 10 September 2, 2006. Included in the exhibit are objects from the 18th and 19th century that were useful, in-fashion and even innovative at the time, but now seem so unusual it is hard to believe the objects were ever real.
Like most museums that have been collecting objects for a long time, the DAR Museum has some pretty bizarre stuff among all its treasures, running the gamut from obsolete to merely odd to altogether ooky. On display are such wonders as a glass dachshund to drink from, jewelry made from human hair, a Revolutionary-era mousetrap, and a snuffbox made from a rams head. For those fascinated by early American medical care, the exhibit offers an earwax spoon, tooth extractors and a variety of bloodletting instruments.
"When we give tours of our museum to kids, they are always intrigued with our most unusual, and what they might call 'icky,' objects," explains DAR Museum Director Diane Dunkley. "We decided to design an entire exhibition of all the DAR Museum's obsolete, odd and ooky objects primarily for entertainment value, but I think visitors of all ages may find that they actually learn something about America's past from this exhibit."
While the "gross out" factor played a big role in identifying objects for the exhibit, the squeamish should not fear a visit to this exhibition. Also included in the exhibition are items that fall into the obsolete and odd categories. Many of the objects on display were common items in the 18th and 19th century, but are no longer used today. Early kitchen utensils such as a wooden meat grinder, a salamander for browning food and sugar nippers remind visitors of the convenience of our contemporary kitchen necessities. Many of todays musical instruments can be dated far back in our annals of history, but for the instruments in this exhibit such as the Barrel Organ, the Melodeon, and the Grand Harmonicon, their popularity has not stood the test of time.
Intriguing, peculiar, impractical, unsanitary and even painful not to mention just plain weird all of the objects in the exhibition provoke questions like, "What is it? How come? What for?!?" The DAR Museum exhibition of these unusual objects from Americas past will answer questions visitors never thought to ask. Visitors to the "Obsolete, Odd and Absolutely Ooky Stuff from the DAR Museum Vaults" exhibition will enjoy getting a glimpse of the weirder side of American history and will wow their friends with their new knowledge of the Zoetrope, Scarificator, Niddy Noddy and Posset Pot.
The DAR Museum collection features more than 30,000 examples of decorative and fine arts, including objects made or used in America prior to the Industrial Revolution. Furniture, silver, paintings, ceramics and textiles, such as quilts and costumes, are exhibited in 31 period rooms and two galleries. The main gallery features changing exhibitions and displays of selected quilts, coverlets and samplers. The DAR Museum Shop offers a variety of unique gifts and books. The DAR Museum, located at 1776 D Street NW, is free to the public and open 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday - Friday and 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Docent tours of the period rooms are offered from 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Monday - Friday and 9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m. Saturday. The DAR Museum is closed Sundays, Federal holidays, and for one week during the DAR annual meeting in the summer. For more information, visit www.dar.org/museum, or call (202) 879-3241 to schedule a group tour.