A peek into our collections, one object at a time

If Dogs Could Fly

August 22, 2017
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carved wooden dog with a black head, white body, and wings.
  “Winged Dog.” Stephan W. Polaha. Ca. 1975. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment.

The dog days of summer would be a bit cooler for puppies if they could be unleashed to fly around the neighborhood.

“Winged Dog,” pictured here, is one of many fanciful creatures created by Stephan W. Polaha (1891–1977) that often mashed up different figures and concepts. For this piece in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection, Polaha added wings to man’s best friend.

Polaha was born in Cleveland and later moved to Reading, Pa., where he worked various jobs and lived with his sister, Mary. Both were dog lovers and avid collectors of books and other objects. Polaha often included everyday items from their home in his whimsical carvings, such as dolls and doll parts from Mary’s collection and various images of dogs. Woof!

To see more dogs in the Smithsonian’s collections, visit "Dog, Museum's Best Friend."