‘The Correct Time’ exhibit showcases broken time pieces


CHICAGO — Clocks are the center piece of the exhibition, “The Correct Time,” on display at the Design Museum of Chicago.

Former student at the School of Art Institute and artist, Barbara Koenen, said the real story is behind her work.  

“I was at a lecture with an art critic talking about Ronald Reagan and he said even a broken clock is right twice a day,” Koenen said. “And I thought hmmm I had never heard that before and that got my mind racing.”

Koenen set out with a goal of acquiring 720 broken clocks, watches, and timepieces, where each one would represent a single minute across all 12 hours on the face of a clock.

“I didn’t realize how formidable of a project it was going to be,” Koenen said.

Koenen sent out press releases, put up posters and made business cards to distribute to potential timepiece suppliers. Soon after, clocks started coming in from all over the world.

“Now we have over 800 and our goal is to get 1,440 because that is one minute for every minute in 24 hours and so we will have all the time in the world,” Koenen said.

Along the way, Koenen found it important to highlight how over time, pieces can represent people’s lives differently.

“It was interesting from a design perspective, but also very moving when you think about how time and timepieces can kind of chronicle people’s lives,” Koenen said.

Tanner Woodford, the Museum’s founder and executive director, said the exhibit also reflects time we lost during the pandemic.

“In some ways it feels like a show from 1989 also feels like a show rooted in 2022 and in that sense it’s a very timeless exhibition,” Woodford said.

Woodford was among 24 designers who created clock faces also on display at the museum—one for every hour of the day.

The exhibition is scheduled to close October 3.

To learn more or donate a broken time piece, visit Donate — Design Museum of Chicago ( or email

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