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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Cochineal


Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum / New York

Many people don’t know that the crimson dye—cochineal—comes from an insect, the Cochineal Bug (Dactylopius confusus). During its life cycle on cacti there’s no sign of the color red (unless you crush it with your thumb), because it hides under waxy white scales. Cultivated for over 1000 years in the Americas, natural and renewable, cochineal comes into play in textiles, lacquer, and art. The Cooper Hewitt looks at its history, legacy, and the innovative ways it is used today. —L.J.

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Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum 2 E 91st St, New York, NY 10128, United States
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