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gothic bath dream houseGothic Bath Dream House

Created by Samuel C. Miller, III
Alexandria, Virginia


Artist Statement:

The original notion of the Gothic Bath was simply of an indoor space where family and friends could take a soak in the grandeur of a gothic setting and sing their songs with natural reverberation.  A happy stained glass window would provide the light.  A house cat would provide a homey touch.

I built the piece from polymer clay, wood and glass.  The figures were based on live studio models and my cat, Annie.

On being challenged to provide a more extensive statement, and after consultation with my friend/poet Mark Barton, I realized the piece I had constructed was really a superposition of temporally diverse and competing background narratives.   Analysis revealed that this Gothic Bath is, in sum, a model of a cat’s box.  To explicate requires a bit of history.

By the 13th century most monks in Britain had come to accept a celibate lifestyle. However, and perhaps in respect for their vocation and their vows of poverty, other sensualities might have been charitably indulged.  An apocryphal Abbot had a dream cell (celia de somnium, L.) constructed on the ruins of an ancient Roman bath using a contemporary gothic design. The Abbot is best known as the patron saint of house cats. 

In Victorian times the Abbot’s gothic bath was rediscovered and excavated.  At the urgings of an apocryphal, cat-loving duchess, a British museum reconstructed the Abbot’s Gothic bath, but without the stained glass windows, which had been lost to time.

Schrodinger’s Cat (cir. 1935) commissioned a box containing the Abbot’s Gothic Bath as an escape from her now-famous thought experiments.*   It pleased the cat that her theoretical merowlings could echo through the vaults.  The cat stipulated that the box contain stained glass windows of an art noveau motif, depicting herself, the duchess and the Abbot.

Most importantly, the cat specified that the box have one open wall so that she would not be subjected to being simultaneously alive and dead while taking refuge in the box.

The object presented here in this exhibit is a scale replica of the cat’s box, including a figure of the cat and an anachronistic figure of the duchess, both enjoying the comforts of the Gothic Bath.

* Schrodinger’s Cat was involved in a thought experiment used by theoretical physicists to explain an apparent paradox in the field of quantum mechanics. In the experiment, the cat is both alive and dead inside a closed box with a vile of poison.  The cat’s condition is indeterminate until an observer looks into the box.


Dream Houses will remain in the Small Stories exhibition until it closes on January 22, 2017. The National Building Museum will then contact purchaser with details about how they can obtain their items, and any shipping charges will be determined at that time.

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401 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20001


10 am–4 pm



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All proceeds from your purchase directly support the National Building Museum’s educational programs and exhibitions.