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The Franz Mayer Wardrobes

Why does furniture look the way it does? How many ways can we talk about furniture?

Discuss with the students:

  • Do people imitate each other or try to have things that other people have?
  • Do people try to do their hair like a movie star, imitate the way they look or dress?
  • What other kinds of imitations do people do?

One of the longest-lasting influences on the appearances of furniture has been the ancient Greek culture, especially its architecture.

How along ago were those temples built?

  • Visit the timeline at HyperHistory Online to get a mental picture of how long ago the temples were built.

    Extension: Chronology - figure out how long a generation is - 30 years? (class can decide), and try to figure out how many great-great-greats your grandfather or grandmother would have to be to have been alive then.

Discussion topics:

  • Are there any special objects that you have in your house that your ancestors owned? Why are they special?
  • Discuss why the Greek culture was so admired, why it was so imitated (and still is).
  • Play the interactive furniture game (download the Web Player for Authorware first).
    Discuss the appearances of the furniture introduced in the furniture game.
  • Look at more American furniture examples from Bayou Bend.
    Use the "search" feature in "Search the Collection"
    (Choose "furniture" from the "categories" window.)
  • Discuss what is most common, what is not.

Look at more Mexican furniture examples (These were made in Mexico)

    Scroll the left index to #16, The Colonial Era - Art for the Household, II
  • Discuss:
    • The appearances of the armoire and the wardrobe.
    • Why might one be listed as an armoire, the other a wardrobe?
    • How do they compare to the pieces from the Franz Mayer exhibit?
  • Return to Franz Mayer exhibit to confirm similarities

Larger image of wardrobe 1:
Larger image of wardrobe 2:

Other discussion opportunities:

  • What did the colonists store in their wardrobes?
  • Why did they need them?
  • Why are they so big?
  • What is the biggest piece of furniture in your house?
  • Why is it so big?
    (to establish past and present cultural conventions for storage and importance of items in the house.)

Other cultural influences: