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Joseph Cornell's hermetic, intensely private box constructions of the 1940s and 1950s evoke the museum display case or vitrine. Over a number of years, Cornell accumulated photographs, clippings, and other abandoned artifacts that he arranged in modestly sized boxes that are at once archives and display cases. Many of Cornell's boxes pay homage to his personal heroines--ballerinas, characters from novels, and film stars. These small "romantic museums" were the subject of his solo exhibition The Romantic Museum: Portraits of Women, held at the Hugo Gallery in New York in 1946.
The Romantic Museum: Portraits of Women  
Joseph Cornell.
Romantic Museum. 1949-50.

Wooden box containing 12 glasses in velvet-lined interior, 12 x 9 x 5" (30.5 x 22.9 x 12.7 cm). Collection Mr. and Mrs. Gene Locks. © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. Photo: courtesy Locks Gallery, Philadelphia

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