Transporting the body often means moving more than just a body in clothes, but a body that has to carry belongings with it--whether a wallet, cell phone, water bottle, luggage, books, hand sanitizer, facemask, snacks or food, homework, and other possessions. The ability to carry more than one thing at a time--that is, more than a handful or mouthful--relies upon vessels that hold. In fashion, these vessels take the form of garment pockets, bags and satchels, strips of cloth, luggage, and well-placed knots.

Carrying Case

Baby carrying wall hanging , Unknown date.

Baby carrying wall hanging

Date: circa 2018

Medium: Cotton, wax and dye

On loan from Kat Roberts

Description: This cotton textile features four figures, a woman, two children who are walking, and child who is secured to the woman’s back with a fastened piece of fabric. The linear crackles in the background of this works are a result of a labor-intensive resist dyeing technique called batik. The vibrance of the figures is due to the fact that they are hand-painted onto the textile after the batik process is finished. This textile typifies Kenyan batik imagery which often depicts members of the Maasai people, such as those seen here, engaged in daily activities. We can infer that thus group is engaged in collecting water in the oblong gourds being held by the woman and one of the children.

Hunting Vest , 1950s-1970s .

Hunting Vest

Date: 1950s-1970s

Medium: suede with metal hardware

On loan from Denise Green

Description: This woven hunting vest, khaki in color and made from cotton, is fastened by way of brown buttons and has a back strap that allows the wearer to adjust the fit. While there is one fairly large pocket on its bottom-left, the majority of space on the vest’s front is taken up by side-by-side oblong pockets that would have been used to hold ammunition. The size of these pockets indicates that the ammunition being held would either be bird or buck shot. Unlike the type of bullets that are loaded into a pistol, shotgun shells are much larger in size, consisting of a round plastic casing with a metal end affixed to one end. It seems likely that this vest was made in the 1950s. However, because this would be considered a classic silhouette for this type of garment and therefore manufactured for multiple decades, it is hard to be certain when dating it.

Carpenter's Work Belt

Date: 2020

Medium: suede with metal hardware

On loan from Sue Cosentini

Description: This leather work belt belongs to Sue Cosentini ‘80, a Cornell alumna and local homebuilder and developer. She is part of the Cornell Athletics Hall of Fame as the first (and only) Cornellian to play two varsity women’s sports in a single season. After graduation, she began working in the male-dominated field of construction and has built and renovated hundreds of homes over the decades. Her companies, Cosentini Construction and New Earth Living, focus on sustainable building design and co-housing. In addition to the Aurora Pocket Neighborhood, located in the Fall Creek neighborhood of Ithaca, she is building a new co-housing community called Amabel Pocket Neighborhood on Floral Ave along the Cayuga Lake inlet. The work belt is worn while on construction job sites and provides easy access to a range of materials needed while building, from nails to carpenter’s pencils.

Motion Discomfort Bag

Date: 1980s

Medium: Paper

Donor: Unknown

On loan from the Kheel Center#: 6994 MB Bx 1 F5

Description: This paper bag is likely familiar to all who have traveled by air. It is white with brown print, measures 4 ½ inches by 8 ½ inches and features a floral design. A paper covered wire at the bag’s top opening is intended to be rolled down and fastened against the sides for a secure closure after use by an air sick passenger. This particular bag was used on flights by the now defunct United States airline carrier Eastern during the early 1980s. Currently, this item is a part of the airline memorabilia collection held by Cornell University’s Kheel Research Center for Labor-Management and Documentation Archives.

Captain America Backpack

Date: 2018

Medium: Plastic

On loan from Joshua Johnson

Description: This bag was purchased in 2018 at Destiny USA in Syracuse, New York. It is inspired by Captain America’s shield from the Marvel Cinematic Universe Film Captain America: The Winter Soldier. From far away, the bag looks identical to Captain America’s shield. Even the straps stay true to this iconic emblem. The bag features a laptop sleeve, allowing Johnson ‘21 to use it in the spring semester of 2018 at Cornell University. Although the bag is quite cramped, it is enough to suffice the most diehard fans.

Ursula Le Guin inspired “Bag Body” Vest (prototype)

Year: 2020

Designer: Christine McDonald

Medium: Upholstery fabric, elastic banding

On loan from Christine McDonald

Description: Ursula Le Guin revived an old philosophy in her essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction,” which posits that the first invention of humankind was the thing that carries - the vessel - rather than the sharp, pointy thing that kills. She states that this popular “hero narrative” might sound more exciting than the gatherer’s “wrestling of the wild oats,” but to really be human, maybe, is to reorient our historical perspective around holding, instead of stabbing. This series of small pouches, pockets, and angled bags are attached, and detachable by buttons, to an elastic set of shoulder straps. The form of the design in partially utilitarian and partially queer and organ like - reflecting on the poetics of “innards and outters,” and the role organs and the body itself play in the act of “carrying” or some kind of visual antithesis of the “hero narrative.”

Ursula Le Guin inspired “Bag Body” Vest- Front view
Ursula Le Guin inspired “Bag Body” Vest- Back view

Magenta Clutch

Date: 2021

Medium: Silk

Donor: Mildred Graves Ryan


Description: This evening bag, magenta in color and created from silk, has two notable design features: a monogram of donor Mildred Graves Ryan’s initials, which are embroidered with matching thread into the bag’s front, and a small strap sewn flat against the clutch’s back wall for additional ease in carrying. As is generally the case with clutches, they are by their very design and intent, much smaller than most handbags. This slim profile allows the wearer to bring small essential items without being burdened with carrying around something large in size.

Magenta Clutch - Front view
Magenta Clutch - Back view

“Golden Wings” Travel Kit , 1980s.

“Golden Wings” Travel Kit

Date: mid-1980s

Medium: Vinyl, plastic, paper

On loan from the Kheel Center #:6994 MB

Description: This travel kit was given out by Eastern Airlines as one of the amenities provided for the passengers flying their Golden Wings service, a route that traveled from the United States to Gatwick, London. The outer pouch is vinyl; however, its surface has been modified to appear that it is made from leather. Printed in gold are the words “Golden Wings” in cursive across the strap and at the bottom the airline’s logo and the word “Eastern”. Among the pouch’s contents are a comb, razor, and other grooming items passengers might find useful on a long-haul flight.

Textile-Based Capacitive Strain Sensor, 2017.

Textile-Based Capacitive Strain Sensor

Textile-Based Capacitive Strain Sensor

Date: 2017

Medium: Silver plated nylon knit, silicone elastomer, knit fabric, the thermoplastic polyurethane-glass-composite film, fusible interfacing, coaxial cables

Credit: Asli Atalay, Vanessa Sanchez, Ozgur Atalay, Daniel M. Vogt, Florian Haufe, Robert J. Wood, and Conor J. Walsh collaborated on this project. This work was conducted in the Harvard Biodesign Lab led by Conor J. Walsh in the Wyss Institute and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Publication Link | Harvard Article Link

Description: In many smart wearable devices, sensors are used to obtain information about the position of the wearer. By creating these sensors from soft, textile-based materials, the comfort, and conformability that wearers expect from clothing can be maintained. Textiles also feature unique mechanical properties, including a reduced Poisson’s ratio, that can improve sensor performance. This glove integrates 10 textile composite capacitive strain sensors at the fingers to track hand motion.

Embroidered Frame Bag with Chain, 1931-1932.

Embroidered Frame Bag with Chain

Date: 1931

Medium: metal, silk, metallic thread

Donor: Charles Mason Remey

CF+TC#: 1377

Description: This small evening bag features a gold-colored metal frame with a thin chain handle and exquisite decorative detailing throughout. Each side of the bag is intricately embroidered with different imagery. On one side can be seen an open landscape with a woman carrying pink flowers, while the other features a green parrot. The embroidery is created in pastel and metallic threads characteristic of Chinese embroideries. The lining made from of tan-colored faille.

Baby Wearing, Unknown date.

Baby Wearing Batik

Date: circa 1965

Medium: Textile

Place of Origin: KenyaProvenance & Notes:

Given to the donor by a graduate student from Kenya.

Source: McMurry, Elsie

Description: Babywearing is still the primary method of transporting infants in many non-Western societies around the world (e.g., Mali, Dettwyler, 1988). This decorative Batik panel is illustrating an African woman who carries a baby on her body. In Africa, women carry babies in a cloth wrapped around their torsos. But there are different cultural babywearing method in Africa as there are different styles of cloth and different ways of wearing