Museum of Arts and Design

Founded as the Museum of Contemporary Craft in 1956 by Aileen Osborn Webb, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City was part of the American Craft Council until 1986, when two separate organizations were formed.  Three works by Emil Milan, two carved wooden spoons and a tray from the ACC’s 1957 Design Wood exhibit were incorporated into the Museum’s new permanent collection. They were exhibited again at MAD in 2011 in an exhibit entitled Eat Drink Art Design.



Following the successes of Designer Craftsmen USA, the American Craft Council continued using touring exhibits to extend their programs beyond New York City and raise public awareness of American craft. One exhibit focused exclusively on wood.  This was partly because Paul J. Smith had just been hired by new ACC President David Campbell. Smith had a background in woodworking and served as curator for the exhibit that was entitled "Design Wood."  From its inception, Design Wood was thought of as an "educational unit" intended to provide insight into the tools and techniques involved in woodworking.  As such, no exhibit catalog was produced.
Smith drew broadly from a wide range of woodworkers including Wharton Esherick, James Prestini, Bob Stocksdale, Tage Frid, Sam Maloof, Joyce and Edgar Anderson. Designers such as Charles Eames and Tapio Wirkkila were represented as well. Emil joined them with three creations in the exhibit, a carved tray and two spoons. 
The exhibit premiered at the 1957 Boston Art Festival in an impressive, if not ponderous, display structure designed by Campbell, who was an architect. The exhibit moved to the ACC's Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City and eventually the artworks were acquired for the Museum's nascent permanent collection. Milan's three pieces were shown again in the 2011 "Eat Drink Art Design" exhibit, at what is now called the Museum of Arts and Design. More than fifty years after they were made, Milan's creations were on public display once more in New York City, this time next to four vessels by legendary American potter Karen Karnes. 
Emil MIlan's works (right) on display next to those of legendary potter Karen Karnes (right). Installation image from  Eat Drink Art Design  (September 21, 2010 – March 27, 2011). Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

Emil MIlan's works (right) on display next to those of legendary potter Karen Karnes. Installation image from Eat Drink Art Design (September 21, 2010–March 27, 2011). Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

Museum of Arts and Design, New York.

Museum of Arts and Design, New York.