Form Follows Function? | Mingei International Museum
Image: Steven and William Ladd, Detail of Beaded Bag from <em>Water Tower</em>, USA, 2003, archival board, fiber, beads, metal.

Some objects reveal their intended functions immediately; other functions are more difficult to decipher.


Tea Whisk (chasen)

20th century Japan

A favorite of Museum Director, Rob Sidner, this whisk was made from a single piece of bamboo that was split with a knife into inner and outer tines.

Leg Splint

c. 1943 USA

This “plyformed wood” leg splint was designed as a valuable contribution to World War II by Charles and Ray Eames.

Water Tower

2003 USA

Is this functional, or is it part of a fantasy?

Spinning Wheel

pre-1820 USA

This wooden spinning wheel hails from the only Shaker community in Connecticut, located in Enfield and known as the City of Union.

Hat Box

20th century China

This lacquered leather and brass hat storage box was made for a Qing official’s court hat, which featured a round jewel insignia at the top.

Mechanical Toy Bank “Speaking Dog”

c. 1885 USA

Cast iron mechanical toy banks were popular in the last few decades of the 19th century, as a fun way for children to learn the art of thrift.

Plan your Visit

Please note: The Museum will be closed Monday, July 4.