The object timeline is an interactive visualization depicting when an object was produced and when that object was collected using some of the major milestones and individuals involved in the Cooper-Hewitt's history itself as a bracketing device. Specifically the years 1835 when Andrew Carnegie was born and 2014 when the museum will re-open after a major renovation to Carnegie's New York City mansion where the collection is now housed. It's not that Andrew Carnegie's birth signals the beginning of time but rather it is the first of a series of events that shape the Cooper-Hewitt today.
The timeline's goal is to visualize — and to continue to develop a visual language to represent — an individual object's history relative to the velocity of major events that define the larger collection. Wherever possible we show both the start and end dates for an object represented as its own underlined event span. If we only know the start date for an object we indicate that using a blue arrow. The date that the object was acquired by the museum is indicated using a white arrow.
Many of events in the timeline overlap. The lives of Andrew Carnegie and the Hewitt Sisters all overlapped one another and they were all alive during the construction of Carnegie's mansion and the creation of Hewitt Sister's Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration. The life of the mansion overlaps the Cooper-Hewitt becoming part of the Smithsonian in 1968 and assuming the mantle of the National Design Museum in the mid-1990s. You can mouse over the name of any individual event to see it isolated from the others.
Once enabled the timeline will appear on individual object pages, a little ways below the fold.