conversation piece

noun
1.
any object that arouses comment because of some striking or unusual quality.
2.
group portraiture representing more or less fashionable people either in an interior or landscape setting.
3.
a play that relies for its effect mainly on the cleverness of its dialogue rather than on plot or action.

Origin:
1775–85

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
conversation piece
 
n
1.  something, esp an unusual object, that provokes conversation
2.  (esp in 18th-century Britain) a group portrait in a landscape or domestic setting
3.  a play emphasizing dialogue

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

conversation piece

An unusual object that arouses comment or interest, as in That bust of Aunt Nettie is ugly but it's an excellent conversation piece. In the early 1700s this same term was used for a particular kind of painting that represented a group, often a family, arranged as though they were conversing with one another. Later in the century the term was extended to any object that stimulates conversation.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
The litany of her outrages has made her an instant conversation piece.
It's a multi-trillion-dollar conversation piece that's designed to get people talking about the president's priorities.
It's scenic, nostalgic and it's quite a conversation piece.
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