Posted April 6, 2016
What’s my favorite object in Gallery 1? There are a lot of objects in Gallery 1 that I connect with – the gadgets used for baking, for instance. My grandpa used to work at a bakery and could decorate a cake with the best of them. At graduation time, my grandparent’s house would be filled with frosting roses he created to go on cakes. It was awesome!
These are not my favorite objects in Gallery 1, though. No, my favorite object in Gallery 1 doesn’t have anything to do with baking. My favorite object is a mustard pot shaped like a bull’s head.
Why this object? Truth be told, I don’t even really like mustard, so it’s not my affinity for that condiment that draws me to this particular object. I like this mustard pot because, well, it’s kind of weird. Before working on this gallery, I didn’t even know mustard pots were a thing. You get mustard from a bottle, right? Wrong! Or at least people in 1800s didn’t get their mustard from a bottle. They would put their mustard in the bottom of this pot (the bull’s neck) and then place the top of the bull’s head to close it. The bull’s tongue is actually a spoon used to dish out the mustard.
This object piqued my curiosity, so I went to our online collections catalog to learn more. We have around 20 mustard pots in our collection. They range from this funky one to very simple glass pots. This particular mustard pot is from the 1880s and is made from milk glass. I like to think that this mustard pot lived among a whole barnyard full of other tableware made in the shape of animals, but that’s probably not the case. All objects have a story, whether we know what it is or not, and using resources like the online catalog helped me to discover something I didn’t know.
The next time you’re in the museum, take note of objects you are curious about and see what more you can learn by looking through the online catalog, stopping by the reference desk in the Archives, or by asking a staff member. Let your curiosity be the guide!
– Mary Leiby, Content Developer