Volume: 142
Issue: December 2012 - January 2013

Innovative Game Table

Story by Metropolitan Museum of Art

Innovative Cabinetmaking
This finely crafted piece of furniture has a secret.

Swing out a leg. Adjust an arm. And voilà! Leaves unfold to reveal multiple configurations: a felt surface for card games, a game board for chess or checkers, a desk with a leather writing surface and book rest. Tug at a hidden latch, and a spring-driven backgammon board pops up.

The brainchild of German cabinetmaker David Roentgen, this sophisticated gaming table once graced the intimate interior of an aristocratic European home. A 3-D animation of the table demonstrates its different configurations and illuminates its concealed features.

Click here for a video link that shows the many secrets of this table.

This table is on view in the landmark exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens, which is the first comprehensive survey of the cabinetmaking firm of David Roentgen (1743–1807) and his father Abraham (1711–1793).

Marvel as 3-D animation and video demonstrations expose the complexities of seven additional Roentgen studio masterworks, including an automaton of Queen Marie Antoinette playing the clavichord and a writing desk that transforms into a private altar. These videos are displayed on touch screens in the exhibition galleries and are also available online.