From Medieval Art to Contemporary Design
One of the oldest historic departments in the museum, the Department of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture oversees more than 22,000 objects, ranging chronologically from the middle ages to the present.
This expansive collection includes arms and armor, ceramics, glass, enamels, coins and medals, furniture, jewelry, lighting, metalwork, plastics, sculpture, stained glass, tapestries, textiles, wallpaper, architectural elements, and tools and utensils, as well as global contemporary design and craft.
Understanding the Galleries
The department’s primary galleries extend across much of the museum’s third floor in the main building, with objects from the collections displayed in and around period rooms to give visitors an idea of how objects from the same time period might have been used. Objects from 1100 to 1500 occupy the south side of the Great Stair Hall; objects from 1500 to 1800 occupy the north side of the Great Stair Hall, with arms and armor in between in dedicated galleries. Galleries featuring nineteenth-century objects are located on the north side of the second floor, while modern and contemporary designs of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries are shown on a rotating basis in the Collab Gallery 219 on the south side.
Some strengths of the extraordinary collection include:
- Renaissance treasures from the Edmond Foulc Collection.
- French eighteenth-century decorative arts given by Eleanore Elkins Rice.
- American sculptor George Grey Barnard’s collection of medieval art.
- English armorial glass given by Mrs. Widener Dixon and Fitz Eugene Dixon.
- A series of tapestries depicting the life of Constantine the Great, gifted by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
- Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch’s collection of arms and armor.
- A collection of Dutch tiles given by Mrs. Francis P. Garvan, Anthony N.B. Garvan.
- Henry P. McIhenny’s gift of French nineteenth-century furniture and other decorative arts.
- Modern and contemporary design gifted by Collab.
Interested in learning more about the museum’s collection of European decorative art? Plan your visit to the museum today.