Deck Chair Salvaged From the ‘Titanic’ Arrives at Museum of the City of New York

Estée Lauder's granddaughter Aerin donated the item.

The Titanic vessel departs Belfast, seen from the shore. Courtesy of the National Museums Northern Ireland.

The Titanic sank during its maiden voyage in 1912, on its way to New York. The tragedy claimed the lives of a number of prominent New Yorkers, including John Jacob Astor IV and Benjamin Guggenheim, among its over 1,500 victims.

It’s fitting, then that the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) is displaying a deck chair that survived the tragedy in a new, eclectic show “From Teaspoons to Titanic: Recent Acquisitions,” on view until December 18.

The MCNY came by their chair through a donation from Aerin Lauder, daughter of Ronald Lauder, Nazi art restitution champion and co-founder of New York’s Neue Galerie, who is the son of cosmetics entrepreneur Estée Lauder.

The deck chair from the Titanic. Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.

The deck chair from the Titanic. Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.

At the museum, the chair shares the stage with other items in the collection acquired since 2013. These include a set of six souvenir sterling silver spoons, that were all the rage during the Gilded Age, featuring city scenes, and haunting photos of New York in the 1970s by Jan Staller, among other assorted objects.

Artifacts from the ill-fated ship have a definite collectors’ market, with recent auctions of letters from survivors, and even a cracker served on board, attracting considerable attention. There are only about 10 known deck chairs in existence, and, according to the New York Times, one recently sold at auction for $150,000.

 Jan Staller, <em>Fire alarm box at 11th Avenue</em>. Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.

Jan Staller, Fire alarm box at 11th Avenue. Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.

The exhibition is a prelude to the planned fall unveiling of the museum’s first permanent exhibition, “New York at Its Core,” opening November 18, which will attempt to tackle all 400-plus years of the city’s history through a presentation of 400 objects from the collection.

From Teaspoons to Titanic: Recent Acquisitions,” is on view at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, New York; August 4–December 18, 2016.

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