Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New reads

Few things make me happier than antique furniture, especially wooden furniture. The aging of its finish, the silkiness of its texture, the unique details that mark its craftsmanship--all of these are very satisfying to me. Furniture as a process, a product, and a beloved possession fascinates me. In museum collections, furniture ranks a close second to textiles as objects that are valued for their intensely personal associations. Reflecting their owner's tastes, income, accessibility, and needs chairs and tables and beds and boxes and wardrobes hold some wonderful secrets.

But what about the raw materials? The wood that makes up these objects can be as precious is just as important as the finished project. Roger Deakin, a prominent environmentalist now deceased, wrote a book Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees, in celebration of what he called the "fifth element." I picked it up today, and am eager to read it. I hope it will give me not only appreciation for the raw material, but suggest some new ways to interpret wood in the museum setting.

I'll let you know how it goes!

And...just for fun: Who Owns Antiquity by James Cuno. With all the news of the Codex Sinaiticus this week, seems like a good time to brush up on some antiquities trade laws.