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There are many ways to look at furniture. The maker saw it as a way to make money or perhaps as a demonstration of skill, the original owner might have used it to show that he was rich and fashionable. The person who inherited the piece may have thought it too gaudy and unfashionable, and today, its owner may see it an antique that connects him to the romantic past.

In Fully Furnished, some amazing examples of American Furniture dating from 1670 to the present are displayed in ways that encourage the viewer to think of furnishings in a variety of new ways. How do you look at furniture?

Press Cupboard
Henry and Clara Ford were enchanted with imaginative furniture constructed by anonymous artisans that reflected tastes and penchants of those long gone, such as this colorful press cupboard painted for Hannah Barnard of Hadley, Massachusetts.

Made: 1710-1720
ID: 36.178.1
The Brewster Chair
In 1970, Henry Ford Museum purchased a remarkable 17th century armchair from an antiques dealer who stumbled upon it sitting in the parlor of a house in Maine. It was a massive, throne-like chair made up of spindles, a type long associated with one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, William Brewster. Unfortunately, after its purchase, an extensive analysis of the chair proved it to be a modern fake. Henry Ford Museum keeps the chair as an educational tool.

Made: ca. 1969
ID: 70.65.1
Marshmallow Sofa
Designed by George Nelson, when the Marshmallow sofa was introduced in 1956, the Herman Miller catalog described it as "The first of a series of pieces embodying a new concept in soft seating. We feel that it has possible use not only in the home, but in contract use for lobbies in public buildings where the very fact that it is unusual will be a plus."

Herman Miller Furniture Company, Zeeland, MI
Made: 1956-1965
ID: 89.177.59
High Chest of Drawers
Maple frame with all drawer fronts of walnut feathered veneer banded in walnut burl veneer. Also known as the Mary Ball Washington highboy, as it belonged to the mother of George Washington.

New England
Made: 1700-1730
ID: 26.14.1
Mr. and Mrs. John Vine first saw examples of horn furniture at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis 1904. Upon their return home to Fayette, Ohio, they ordered a large number of steer horns from a packing house in Texas and made their own version of this popular furniture style.

Made by John Vine of Fayette, OH.
Made: 1904-1905
ID: 80.80.1

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The Herman Miller Consortium
Herman Miller, Inc., based in Zeeland, Michigan, become a leader in design and manufacture of modern furniture for both home and office. The company is famous for innovations in design and ergonomics including the "Marshmallow Sofa" pictured above.

The Herman Miller Consortium contains about 750 pieces of furniture as well as a large quantity of product literature. The Henry Ford maintains the record of the consortium holdings.

View the Herman Miller Consortium Collection online