Church Birdcage, mid-19th century
Turned, cut, and stained mahogany, cherry, pine, cut brass, wire, enamel-painted metal. Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt. 1916-19-83-a,b.
What is this?
Birdcage (a) of wooden slats, dowels and metal wire in the form of a church with peaked roof; walls of clerestory-like gothic style arches; at one end a rectangular bell tower with three large, circular, painted clock faces, and door with inverted heart-shape perforation. Wood and sheet metal under tray (b) pulls out at left side. Small loop handle of brass on roof.
Why is this important?
This birdcage is a model of a church in Flushing, Queens, New York; by the time the Hewitts owned the birdcage, the church was covered in stone. The spacing between the wooden slats provides visibility and ventilation for the birds and differentiates between an actual architectural model and a practical birdcage.
When the Hewitt sisters travelled to Europe in pursuit of objects for the museum they were creating (see photo of Sarah, Eleanor, and Amy Hewitt in a Venetian gondola), they collected items that, today, might not seem immediately relevant to a design museum—like birdcages. The European-focused Hewitt sisters acquired birdcages in various media, such as ceramics and glass. Others represent specific architecture from various locations.
This object has been included in the following exhibitions: