Current Installation

History-making Attaché

May 6, 2022 - October 16, 2022

New-York Historical is proud to present a remarkable gift: an elegant traveling dressing case owned by esteemed statesman and diplomat Dr. V. K. Wellington Koo, whose long career shaped modern China and U.S.–China relations.


1st floor, Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History

In celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the New-York Historical Society is proud to present a remarkable recent gift—a traveling dressing case owned by Dr. V. K. Wellington Koo (1888‒1985), an esteemed statesman, diplomat, and a judge of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, whose long and distinguished career shaped modern China and U.S.–China relations. A participant in nearly every significant international event of the mid 20th century, Koo advanced China’s interests in a succession of diplomatic roles, most notably for leading China’s delegation to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference and refusing to sign the Treaty of Versailles to cede control of Chinese territories to Western and Japanese demands. 

Koo traveled extensively throughout his life to all corners of the globe. He probably acquired this dressing case in 1919 before attending the Paris Peace Conference. Made of luxurious crocodile skin, the case is essentially a dapper gentleman’s portable dressing room and is outfitted with 31 accessories, including sterling silver boot jacks; tabletop travel clock and barometer; a shaving mirror; liquor flask; and a removable wallet with ivory-handled grooming tools. 

Curated by Debra Schmidt Bach, curator of decorative arts and special exhibitions; gift of Oscar L. Tang and Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, in honor of the late Shirley Young 

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.

  • NYC Cultural Affairs
  • NY Council on the Arts

Media sponsor:

  • WNET New York Public Media