Friday, September 25, 2009

Show me the door

I’m a collector, and I love collections, particularly when items have been lovingly amassed through a period of time (is it any wonder why I work in a museum?). It could be a large collection or a small one; it could have been collected over a lifetime or over a weekend. All the same, collections provide a glimpse into the lives and personalities of people. While I was in Sydney earlier this year, I had the good fortune of visiting the State Library of New South Wales. There, I saw a collection of dance party fliers, collected between 2001 and 2005 by Jurgen Wegner. The collection of advertising ephemera, dubbed “The partyART portfolio”, captures a glimpse of Australian social life. Due to Mr Wegner’s foresight, the collection is now celebrated as part of national heritage.

I was thrilled therefore, to stumble across another collection of ephemera, this time of door hangers, posted onto the Internet by Michael Lebowitz, founder and CEO of Big Spaceship, a digital creative agency in Brooklyn, NY. The eclectic collection actually belonged to his late grandfather, and through a purposely-dedicated website, Michael introduces us to the collection by saying, “When my grandfather passed away last year, my family gathered to go through his belongings. He had been in the foreign service and he had filled a whole wall of his study with hotel door hangers from all his travels throughout the world. They're really beautiful, in aggregate, and I wanted to share. Enjoy.”

The collection of 55 door hangers is truly a joy to behold. Some people might think that it’s too small a collection to make a fuss about, or that the door hangers themselves are not very special, but somehow, collectively, they are. The collection may merely serve to show us where someone’s grandfather had travelled and stayed, but part of us wishes that we might find something as precious should we have to suffer the misfortune of losing a loved one. Click here to see the collection.

My favourite of the lot is the owl-themed one from the Manila Hilton pictured above.

Image via Michael Lebowitz

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