Object Ethnography Project

Students at NYU are working on a study called the Object Ethnography Project, in which people donate objects--and hopefully stories which go with them--which are then "adopted" by new owners, who will create their own stories, memories, and relationships with these objects.

I think this is incredibly cool and I can't wait to hear the stories that come out if the project. I've noticed snippets here and there within material culture literature about second, third, fourth lives of objects.

We hear often in costume studies about dresses with 1830s silhouettes but 1760s fabric, known to be altered from their original shape from wear patterns, stitching holes, etc...

And anyone who buys vintage can tell you about that party in 2005 when they wore the perfect 1955 dress and 1985 heels....

I am so interested in the kind of objects they will receive! I thought about donating something, but realized that the things which carry the best stories are those that I am least willing to give up....am I alone here, or are there tons of selfless people willing to give up their cherished this or that to this very awesome project? I wonder if it will be limited by the sentimentality of donors, i.e. only less worth-full things will be donated?

I suppose that there are a few different sides to how things acquire multiple lives. The first two that come to mind are inheritance and antique/second-hand shopping. In one case, the objects are probably the most meaningful in one's life, and thus passed on. In the other, the objects were not meaningful enough--at least for that month, year, decade--to not be sold or given away. How will the objects involved in this project compare?

Will you offer something? Tell me what you're thinking of sending!