SpongeBob’s great grandfather is in the Art Institute of Chicago collection

Within the deep archives of the Art Institute of Chicago’s collections resides an unusual item. A silver box, square in shape, with the name “Sponge Box“.

Perhaps this is the great-great grandfather of SpongeBob? You can see some of the similarities:

  1. Both have a square shape.
  2. Both live in water.
  3. The names are very similar. Sponge Box. SpongeBob.
  4. The shield on Sponge Box looks like SpongeBob’s tie.
  5. The holes in the Sponge Box are like the holes in SpongeBob.

Spongebob Squarepants theme lyrics sung for the Sponge Box

Who lives in Art Institute of Chicago collections under the internet?
Sponge Box! Sponge Box!

Square and funny and holding a sponge is he
Sponge Box! Sponge Box!

If sudsy nonsense be something you wish
Sponge Box! Sponge Box!

Then drop on the Art Institute and look at the art!
Sponge Box! Sponge Box!
Sponge Box! Sponge Booooooox!

About the Sponge Box

The Art Institute of Chicago lists this silver box as 1833, probably made by artist Pieter Kuijlenburg (Dutch, active c. 1818-c. 1834)

Please note the name of the person who gave this Sponge Box to the museum.

TitleSponge Box
Dimensions3.8 × 3.2 cm (1 1/2 × 1 1/4 in.)
Credit LineGift of Mrs. Anna Mantel Fishbein
Reference Number1975.968

Mrs. Anna Mantel Fishbein?

Is that true?Mrs. Anna Mantel Fishbein gave this to the museum? Take a look at that last name—FISHbein. She gives the museum a Sponge box. And her last name starts with FISH. Something seems fishy.

Does she have a real-life connection to Spongebob Squarepants?

The sponge box was gifted to the museum 1975—many years before Spongebob was first developed in 1996.

Let’s look at the other items thatMrs. Anna Mantel Fishbein gave to the Art Institute. She gave a couple other sponge boxes, although not square in shape.

Mrs. Anna Mantel Fishbein also gave the museum a couple fish-shaped vinaigrettes (a small ornamental bottle for holding smelling salts.)

In our search for Fishbein’s connection to Spongebob Squarepants, the trail gets hotter. We have MORE connections to the undersea adventures.

Perhaps these fish look like some of the fish in the Spongebob cartoon!

Now how about this?… She also gave the Art Institute this Vinaigrette in the Form of a Scallop Shell. (Made in 1816/17)

For real? I thinkMrs. Anna Mantel Fishbein knew about Spongebob before he existed. Now if she only gave the museum a starfish, squid, and a crab. That would be eery!

Discover fun artworks in the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection online!

Wade through the collection on their website (55,000 images are in the public domain).

Or have a random image appear with every new Chrome tab. The Art Institute has a Chrome extension that displays a random artwork. I customized the plugin to display the images full screen (examples).

» Ask me if you’d like my customized version.

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