What is the life cycle of a particular museum object? How was it made and originally used, and how has its use changed since becoming part of a museum collection?

This section examines in environmental terms the material history, functional use, and later preservation of a two-hundred-year-old silver urn designed to hold a conical loaf of refined sugar. When turning our attention to the material properties of objects such as this, we can better see the intertwined social and environmental histories involved in their creation, use, and ongoing preservation in a museum setting.

Joseph Lownes, Sugar Urn and Cover, ca. 1800. Princeton University Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Landon K. Thorne for the Boudinot Collection (y1954-212 a–b)