When Does a Collection Become a Collection?

When Does a Collection Become a Collection?

Colleen Quinn
Sep 8, 2010

As we focus this month on the collections that enrich our lives, the question inevitably arises of when a random accumulation of like goods crosses the line to become a collection. Is it a number that forms the tipping point, or perhaps the active desire to accumulate more? Is there a strict dividing line, or just a shifting spectrum? When does a collection become a collection?

Many of my collections seem to grow organically when I'm not focused on their development. I have a tendency to pick up items just because I like them — especially when I'm traveling — and it is only after I get home that I realize either how well a particular piece fits into my existing collections or how well my new pieces fit together to form a new collection.

For me, collections aren't a product of numbers, they are a really more a state of mind. When I see the connections between items or decide to display a group together, that is when they become a collection. Three tapestries, seven Turkish lamps, sixty shot glasses — each is a collection to me, less because of anything tangible and more just because of how I think and feel about them.

What do you think makes a collection a collection? If you have a collection, did it develop accidentally or is it the result of deliberate acquisitions? Have you ever found yourself wondering how on earth you you ended up with the collections you have?

Image: Naotake Murayama licensed for use under Creative Commons.

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