• Bowes Curator Howard Coutts on Meissen, Staffordshire, and Sèvres I’m the curator of the ceramics bit of the Bowes Museum. It’s a big museum with 30 galleries of which three or four are devoted to ceramics alone. Within Britain, it’s got one of the biggest and most expensive groups for people to see. We have about 5,000 or so pieces in the collection. We’re not sure exactly. It’s all registered, but of course we get tea sets registered under one number, so I thi…
  • Diablitos in the Details: The Curious Tale of Mexico's Most Peculiar Pottery In the rural Mexican state of Michoacán, devils, mermaids, saints, sun gods, and drunks can all be found mixing it up and having a great time. Each of these characters, and many more, inhabit the strange universe depicted in sculptures produced in the tiny town of Ocumicho. "Though sanitized into angels and last-supper scenes for tourist markets, authentic Marcelino figures are almost always ob…
  • Who Killed American Kitsch? For home-front America, World War II was a time of shared sacrifice, when people gave up simple pleasures to support those fighting overseas in the greatest struggle the civilized world had ever known. After the war, though, society breathed a collective sigh of relief and went out looking for a bit of fun. One of the easiest things to do was to update one’s décor, as Donald-Brian Johnson discove…
  • Cowan Art Pottery of the Art Deco Era I’m the curator here at the museum in Rocky River, a suburb west of Cleveland. I look at Cowan pottery from a historian’s angle because this is part of Rocky River’s cultural history. I’m not a collector, but I personally enjoy and value Cowan pottery. I was on the board of trustees of the library about 10 years ago and did a lot of work to make sure that the Cowan Pottery Museum continued and was…