Collection Theme

Contemporary Craft

For centuries, artisans created the useful and beautiful objects of everyday life—wooden furniture and vessels, practical earthenware pots and glass bottles, and elegant porcelain tableware.

In the mid-20th century, artists began to revisit these traditional materials and forms with a new interest in their expressive and aesthetic potential. These pioneering craft artists challenged expectations of their media, fostered new dialogues, and built communities that we recognize today as pivotal movements in American studio craft.

Carnegie Museum of Art has been at the forefront of collecting contemporary objects in ceramic and glass. More recently, the museum actively developed its collection of contemporary turned wood and studio furniture. These materials share a heritage of functionalism, of vessel forms, and of tools that generate rotational symmetry—the potter’s wheel, the glassblower’s pipe, and the woodworker’s lathe. Yet from these common roots stem a great diversity of objects that demonstrate endless innovation with material, technique, and form.