Given to the Cooper Hewitt by Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw, this is an exceptional collection of 18th- and 19th-century models of staircases and some significant architectural models. The models exhibit a range of design styles, materials and techniques, but most of the staircase models were designed in the compagnonnage tradition. Compagnonnage, refers to a system of mastership in which a “group of companions” artisans attained mastery of a skill working together under a master, combining formal study with practical training. Apprentices honed their skills in a workshop during the day, taking courses in the art of geometrical drawing and design in the evening, living together in a boarding house. The architectural models were used as teaching tools and were popular as a means to "collect" important architecture, often purchased by travelers on the Grand Tour.