World's Fair Tea Set at the White House
The Obama’s are a modern day family. They currently reside in what is the
America’s People’s Museum; the White House. The White House has very strong
traditions and along with those comes the furnishings, art work and other wise
tchotchkes. Each First Lady has had a style of their own. First Lady Michelle
Obama is known as the “modern” First Lady.Each First Lady will either leave
something of herself in the White House or somehow put her
“mark” on the White House by either decorating or designing something to be
cherished for all to see.
This brings us to the very lovely redo of what is known as the Old Family
Dining Room.As of this writing, this room of the White House has never been remodeled in any way. The furniture in the room was to stay the same, but accessories will
be added. First Lady Obama is adding 20thcentury art into the room to
completely change the look and the feel of the room. Her perspective
is that she wants to see a cross section of people in this country represented in an artistic way.
She wanted to present to the world American Modern artists and the feeling of home.
First Lady Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of The White House,worked together by bringing in significant pieces that were
either “gifted” to the White House or funded by the White House
Historical Association. Here’s a quick list of the pieces that were
added: First African American painting in the White House by artist Alma Thomas (1891-
1978),painting by Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), National Medal of the Arts
winner, painting by Josef Albers (1888-1976) and a handcrafted wool rug by
Anne Albers, an abstract artist. Also “gifted” from the 1939 New York World’s
Fair were “fair souvenirs”, and among the
buttons, banners and toys were china, cheap metals and fabulous ceramics and coffee & tea sets!
The tea sets were modeled after the World’s Fair with spherical and triangular spouts that were the adopted symbols of the World’s Fair, called “perisphere & trylon” . These were types of so-
called “art deco icon collectables”. They were manufactured by the famous silver makers
named Graff, Washbourne & Dunn. At the conclusion of the world’s fair, the White House
received these items and they were archived. Now, the Old Family Dining room is being graced with these deco pieces that seemed to have a hard edge to them The tea sets felt futuristic
and now they sit nestled in a very homey space and will be seen and used often. The set is
comprised of a tray, a sugar bowl, a creamer and a “footed” tea pot. They are made of silver
and have black handles and knobs on their lids.
One is able to view these pieces at the Whitehouse(dot)gov site, the Jenna Bush Hager interview
from the Today Show ( todayshow(dot)com), and a photo image at
Finally, leaving you with a suitable quote from First Lady Obama ~“Today moving
forward,theOld Family Dining Room will reflect the history of our former
firstfamilies and respect the
legacy and impact of modern American artists” ~
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