Celebratory Weekend

Spectacular nighttime views of New York and the countryside presented by the artist who created them; a look into one of the most important modern art exhibitions of the 20th century with one of its leading scholars; presentations by the students of the 360 class who organized their own exhibition and wrote their own catalog! Please join us for a celebratory weekend this Friday evening and Saturday morning!
Friday, March 28, 6:00 pm
Thomas Hall 224
Artist talk with painter Yvonne Jacquette

Saturday, March 29, 9:30 am
Thomas Hall 110
Lecture: Laurette McCarthy, Armory Show Scholar
Re-examining the Armory Show and Rediscovering its Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr and Whitney-Payson Connections
Presentations by 360 course cluster students

Students and Alumnae Meet, in Special Collections

Dr. Jeannette Ridlon Piccard was a pioneer on several fronts in her lifetime. She became the first woman to reach the stratosphere with her husband, Dr. Jean Felix Piccard, in a high-altitude balloon in 1934. In 1974, she became one of the first women ordained as priests by the Episcopal Church. Although she professed little talent for academics, Piccard was a dedicated student. In a letter composed in 1942 as a supplement to a job application, Piccard claimed to have chosen Bryn Mawr College because her high school diploma decreed that she could go to any college in the country except for Bryn Mawr. She wrote, “So I decided to take Bryn Mawr exams so that no one could say there was any college to which I could not go.” Piccard graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1918 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and psychology, and went on to earn a master’s degree in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1919, finally receiving her Ph.D. in education from the University of Minnesota in 1942.tag1

The task of organizing her papers, which were donated to Bryn Mawr College by her granddaughter Ruth Elizabeth Piccard, has occupied the bulk of my summer in Special Collections. When I began sorting through the five boxes, I found Piccard’s extensive correspondence mixed with receipts and travel vouchers from her time as a Special Consultant for NASA; drafts of essays on topics ranging from the significance of head covering in various religious denominations to the ethics of modern medicine; evidence of her decades-long campaign for the ordination of women jumbled up with the original research for her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Minnesota; and even a rough copy of the first few chapters of her unfinished autobiography. The collection was disorganized, to say the least. However, over the past several weeks, I have managed to consolidate the assorted papers into a formal structure that will guide the more complete organization and description of the collection in the future.

By her own account, Piccard lived an eventful and unconventional life. Born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 5, 1895, she was the next-to-youngest of nine children. At three, she watched her twin sister accidentally set herself aflame and burn to death. By the time she was eleven, Piccard had resolved to become a priest, even though at the time there were no female priests in the Episcopal Church. She was also deeply invested in the sciences; even though her majors were philosophy and psychology, she took all the college courses in physics and chemistry she could. Upon entering graduate school at the University of Chicago during the First World War, Piccard chose to pursue a master’s degree in chemistry, partly to “replace a man for the front,” but also because she believed her degree might lead to permanent employment after the war, as opposed to the temporary positions most of her fellow female students expected. It was as a graduate student that Jeannette met her future husband, Swiss national Dr. Jean Felix Piccard. “We were drawn to each other the first time we met. We had the same name. We were [identical] twins.” They married shortly after Jeannette received her degree and promptly left for Switzerland.

Drawn into aeronautics by her brother-in-law Auguste, Piccard qualified as a pilot in 1934. In October of the same year, she and Jean ascended by balloon to an altitude of 57,559 ft, reaching the stratosphere through a layer of clouds. Contemporary accounts hailed Piccard as the first woman in space. She and her husband became popular lecturers as a result of their successful flight and toured for many years, until Jean secured a teaching position at the University of Minnesota, one of the first universities to have a department devoted to aeronautical engineering.

A year after Jean’s death in 1963, the director of NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center hired Jeannette as a consultant. She held the position until it was eliminated for reasons of economy in 1970, the same year the General Convention of the Episcopal Church opened the Diaconate to women. From that point onwards, Piccard devoted herself to becoming a priest, a vocation she had never abandoned. She was finally ordained in 1974 alongside ten other women, who together formed the “Philadelphia Eleven”, the first female priests “irregularly” ordained by the Episcopal Church. After extensive debate, the ordinations were regularized on January 1, 1977.

Although Piccard dedicated her life to two fields in which I otherwise have little interest, I have found a great deal to admire in this woman whom I came to know through the papers she left behind. Piccard was a life-long advocate for gender equality in two areas traditionally closed to women: the church and aerospace. Unapologetically committed to eradicating institutionalized sexism in both space exploration and the church that was so dear to her, Piccard was one of those fortunate people who actually managed to make something of her ambitions, making significant progress in both arenas during her lifetime.

In a letter to a colleague dated March 30, 1970, Piccard noted that she had a number of badges from her time as a Special Consultant for NASA that no longer held any value following the expiration date. “I’ll stick them in the file to edify future generations!” she wrote.

Consider me edified, Reverend Dr. Piccard.

Eileen Morgan, class of 2015Eileen

Spending the Summer with Special Collections


With my final year of college rapidly approaching, I have been thinking immensely about how I would apply my History of Art degree after graduation. Because attending a liberal art college has equipped me with a wide variety of skills, narrowing the list of potential careers is rather arduous. Thank goodness for my position this summer in Bryn Mawr College’s Special Collections, as I have had the opportunity to explore a myriad of job types surrounding the visual arts.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, I devote my time to working in the Arts and Artifacts Collection. This summer, the department is gathering items around campus that once belonged to President M. Carey Thomas and her partner Mary Garrett in hopes of creating an exhibit about the Deanery, the women’s residence for many years. They collected an astounding number of precious items for their home—chairs, tables, dressers, prints, vases, lamps, and much more. Working alongside fellow students, both of the undergraduate and graduate levels, has provided me with a great amount of experience handling art and decorative objects. Additionally, we’re responsible for photographing, measuring, and inputting information to be viewed on TriArte, the TriCo’s art database. Our responsibilities, particularly photographing, are exciting and new, and I’m ever-so-grateful for the experience.

My focus shifts on Wednesdays and Thursdays towards digitization, the process of converting information and works into digital formats. Another position of mine is within the Digital Archives to reorganize its expansive collection of alumnae photo albums and scrapbooks. This mostly involves cataloguing, crafting custom boxes, and rehousing. My favorite benefit of this position is the ability to explore each of the scrapbooks and discover how Bryn Mawr College has—or hasn’t—changed over the years. Gazing at the personal words, photographs, and Bryn Mawr memorabilia conjures a connection within me to the school that completely lacked at the start of the summer. It’s refreshing to reflect upon how I contribute to the college’s legacy.

I utilize Fridays to complete what is both the most challenging and exciting task entrusted upon me this summer: completing a digital exhibit for the Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education. I spent the earlier half of the summer acquainting myself with the website and easing accessibility for visitors. Currently, I am researching and organizing information regarding lesser-known aspects about the college. An incredible amount of work goes into planning an exhibit, but I find the process enthralling. It implements many of the practical and critical skills I’ve honed at Bryn Mawr and newly acquired this summer. Creating this exhibit, in addition to working within the Digital Collections and Arts and Artifacts, has provided me with amazing insight towards potential library- and archive-related careers following graduation. While I’m sad that this experience is coming to an end, I’m eager to apply what I’ve learned towards my future art historical endeavors.

Written by Samone Rowe, Class of 2014

Theory and Practice: Students in Spring course produce exhibition and education program Part 3

making our worldThe Spring 2013 course “The Curator in the Museum” at Bryn Mawr College mixes theory into practice in the new exhibition “Making our World” located on the second floor of Canaday Library. Through readings and guest lectures related to the broader course theme of analyzing the “institution” of the museum and all its related parts, we integrated these models into our own project exhibition and corresponding education program for local high school students.

The following updates — written and edited by students as part of the team-based approach to the entire project — are reports on our progress along the way. Please let us know your thoughts.

Communicating Personality and Displaying a Life

Student blogger: Claudia Keep

Pinkerton (left) and Levine sections of Making Our World. Photograph by Alison Whitney

Pinkerton (left) and Levine sections of Making Our World. Photograph by Alison Whitney

One of the challenges of creating an exhibit around living individuals is how to portray their personality and the intangible qualities and values that they hold. How do you show something that is not an object? We were working with various objects that hopefully, when displayed together, would tell /create an accurate description of the individual. But how does one pick and choose the object or series of objects that would best represent the various qualities that made up these individuals?

One of the subjects of our “Making Our World” show, recent Bryn Mawr graduate Courtney Pinkerton had many interests and fascinating stories, but they did not all lend themselves to a visual display. Other subjects of our show were easier to portray visually, particularly as interviewees Jackie Levine and Margery Lee are both art collectors, and had donated numerous books and works of art to Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections.

Only having graduated last year, most of Courtney’s life experiences and interests have been defined by her time in high school, and most especially by her time at Bryn Mawr. Courtney’s time at Bryn Mawr was shaped greatly by her independence, and her work ethic. But how do you show independence, hard work, and commitment inside of a glass case?

To design and fill the portion of the display case reserved for Courtney, we had several objects to work with.  We had a portrait of Courtney Pinkerton and her mother taken last year at commencement, by artist Gilbert Plantinga; the pair of pink sequined cow girl boots that Courtney is wearing in the photograph; the flag of Courtney’s native state, Texas; a copy of the 3.5 resolution Courtney drafted and proposed at plenary; a copy of Courtney’s senior thesis on the intersection of popular culture and race relations; and finally, the crime blotter entry that describes the prank Courtney and her friends played where they switched the flags on Thomas Great Hall with Texas state flags.

Gilbert Plantinga Mary & Courtney Pinkerton, 2012 Digital print Seymour Adelman Fund Purchase Bryn Mawr College 2013.6.32

Gilbert Plantinga
Mary & Courtney Pinkerton, 2012
Digital print
Seymour Adelman Fund Purchase
Bryn Mawr College

For the final display, we decided to include the portrait of Courtney, her pink boots, the Texas flag, the crime blotter, and the plenary resolution.  These objects seemed to both create an image of Courtney’s personality as well reflect on her time at Bryn Mawr, combining her personal experiences, like her flag prank, and experiences that all Bryn Mawr students could relate to, like a plenary resolution and the Bi-Co news crime blotter. The flag of Texas and her pink cowgirl boots were visual nods to her home state as well as too her strong sense of individuality (not many Bryn Mawr students regularly wear such striking boots). We decided not to include her thesis for, as stimulating as it might be to read, it would not look very compelling sitting in a glass case where no one could read it. We also felt that as almost all students will write a thesis during their time at Bryn Mawr, it did not communicate anything specific enough about Courtney or her time at Bryn Mawr.

We hoped to achieve a balance between objects and text to create a display that was both informative and visually arresting.


Theory and Practice: Students in Spring course produce exhibition and education program part 2

making our worldThe Spring 2013 course “The Curator in the Museum” at Bryn Mawr College mixes theory into practice in the new exhibition “Making our World” located on the second floor of Canaday Library. Through readings and guest lectures related to the broader course theme of analyzing the “institution” of the museum and all its related parts, we integrated these models into our own project exhibition and corresponding education program for local high school students.

The following updates — written and edited by students as part of the team-based approach to the entire project — are reports on our progress along the way. Please let us know your thoughts.

Decision-making and “Making Our World”

Student blogger: Christine Villanueva

Curator Jennifer Redmond, Director, The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women's Education, introduces students to the Taking Her Place exhibition on the first day of the semester.

Curator Jennifer Redmond, Director, The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education, introduces students to the Taking Her Place exhibition on the first day of the semester.

Making Our World is a satellite exhibit centered on main exhibition Taking Her Place located in Canaday’s Rare Book Room. As a departure from Taking Her Place (an exhibition dedicated in exploring the early history of women’s higher education and Bryn Mawr College’s parallel role in providing women of the 19th/early-20th centuries public access beyond the domestic sphere), Making Our World focuses on four contemporary Bryn Mawr alumnae. Since the post-war period, Bryn Mawr has remained an environment that fosters the same intense intellectual curiosity that it did for women in the 19th/early 20th centuries, giving them public access to contribute more actively to the world around them.

The collected cultural ephemera that included (among other things) a computer, yearbooks, magazines, pamphlets, photographs, and artworks were donated by each of the four Bryn Mawr alumnae profiled. Each was generous with her time and participation with the project, but discretion as a value revealed itself of tantamount importance as research in developing the story and thematic elements of Making Our World. The alumnae profiled in Making Our World –Courtney Pinkerton, Kimberly Blessing, Margery Lee, and Jacqueline Levine –not only served as subjects in order to explore how experiences at Bryn Mawr shaped their lives, but also as women to celebrate. In that light, the exhibitions group sought to find objects that best represented and respected the women and their stories, and also how each have impacted Bryn Mawr’s community.

In the case of Margery Lee, Class of 1951, instead of focusing on her experiences as an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College and her professional career, Lee insisted on focusing on the collection of artworks she donated to Bryn Mawr College and her numerous experiences in the art world. It was clear that her love of art she shared with her husband had been a vital and defining experience in her life. We respected her insistence on this significant aspect of her life by having her collection of artworks take center stage as indicative of Lee’s experiences and accomplishments from Bryn Mawr. She has donated over a dozen artworks to the college, and selecting which works to highlight from the impressive pool of candidates proved a fun task for the exhibitions group as executive “curators” of Making Our World. The objects group pulled several pieces for us to consider. These included a large-scale photograph by local and contemporary artist David Graham, a photograph by prolific and controversial artist Andres Serrano, a screen print by Warren Rohrer, and lithographs by Jim Dine and Jody Pinto.

Working out the installation details

Working out the installation details

Initially unsatisfied by the pool of works pulled by the objects group, we used triarte.brynmawr.edu, the arts and artifacts database of Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges to see what other works could be considered for the exhibit. We rejected the Jim Dine lithograph because we felt its heart motif too sentimental, obvious and ‘on the nose’ for the exhibit’s theme and title. We loved that Bryn Mawr owned an Andrew Serrano photograph of a close-up girl’s pierced ear and earring titled “Child Abuse II”, but felt the content of the photograph incongruous with our exhibit, and felt that Serrano’s piece could be better served in a future exhibit. Its inclusion in Making Our World felt forced to us given Serrano’s critical intent for the work. Rohrer’s screen print “Barks and Marks”, David Graham’s photograph of a William Penn impersonator “Bud Burkhart as William Penn, Three Arches, Levittown, PA”, and Jody Pinto’s landscape lithograph “Fingerspan for Climbers Rock Fairmount Park” were all seriously considered to display for the exhibit.

To be frank, however, we wondered if there were other works in Lee’s collection that held the same “big-name” artist recognition as Andres Serrano. Though our anticipated audience was not geared towards a distinctly informed art audience familiar with an artist like Serrano, we felt that, in part, by focusing on Margery Lee’s donated works as indicative of Bryn Mawr’s first-rate Art and Artifacts Collections, we wanted to display works that could carry broad-based appeal and familiarity, and excite an audience approaching not only Making Our World, but Bryn Mawr College itself. Although Rohrer, Graham, and Pinto’s works are of great quality and content (representative of Lee’s strong local connection to the Pennsylvania art scene), we were confident that Lee’s collection was deep enough to pull other works representative of Bryn Mawr’s world class art collection.

As such, we were excited to discover Lee had also donated George Segal and James Rosenquist serigraphs and an Ansel Adams photograph to the college. We wanted to include the Ansel Adams photograph “Dead Tree, Sunset Crater National Monument, Arizona” but were informed that it had already been exhibited in a prior show, Double Take, a year ago. Because of the photographic medium and the work’s age, conservation rules dictate that photographs only be displayed (under strict lighting guidelines) every few years. In order to preserve Adams’s work for future Mawrtyrs, we were unable to display it for this exhibit. However, the James Rosenquist serigraph “For the Young Artist”, an imitation of a color perception test called an Ishihara Color Test that spells out “ICU2RA*” (roughly “I see you too are a star), proved to be the fulcrum around which we based Margery Lee’s display. It was colorful and dynamic, it was by renowned Pop artist James Rosenquist (whose works are in the collection of MoMA and the Met, among others), and most importantly, its thematic content of mentorship between young and old generations proved a home run. As the only abstract, non-figurative artwork displayed, we chose the Rosenquist piece over Rohrer’s “Barks and Marks”.

For the Young Artist, James Rosenquist Serigraph on wove paper 2007.12.3

For the Young Artist, James Rosenquist
Serigraph on wove paper

However, its size proved to be slightly detrimental and highly difficult within our display case. But, the exhibitions group pushed for its inclusion as it also worked well loosely juxtaposed next to alumna Kimberly Blessing’s technology oriented objects. We were happy with the other artworks the objects grouped pulled –Marlene Dumas’s “Supermodel”, John Kindness’s “China Cabinet Fly”, and David Graham’s William Penn photo –but their respective sizes proved too large for the space, and we found ourselves needing to cut one piece. Dumas’s “Supermodel” was a shoe-in; it is the only work by a female artist, and, we felt, played well against other featured alumna and art collector Jacqueline Levine’s displayed artworks of figuratively focused, and politically/racially charged (in different degrees) works. Ultimately, we chose etching “China Cabinet Fly” against Graham’s photograph because it paired better between the Rosenquist and Dumas prints.

Upon reflection, perhaps it would have proved better to mix up the displayed artworks, exhibiting the large-scale William Penn photograph instead in order to challenge audience expectations. But, as exhibition designers, we stand strongly behind our decisions to display other works against others, as all decisions were reached thoughtfully and collaboratively. We feel that the final three artworks exhibited for Margery Lee cohesively celebrate both her and the college’s art collection, and more broadly, the community oriented engaged learning of Making Our World.

Theory and practice: Students in Spring course produce exhibition and education program Part 1

making our worldThe Spring 2013 course “The Curator in the Museum” at Bryn Mawr College mixes theory into practice in the new exhibition “Making our World” located on the second floor of Canaday Library. Through readings and guest lectures related to the broader course theme of analyzing the “institution” of the museum and all its related parts, we integrated these models into our own project exhibition and corresponding education program for local high school students.

The following updates — written and edited by students as part of the team-based approach to the entire project — are reports on our progress along the way. Please let us know your thoughts.

Guest Lecturer Dr. Bruce Altshuler

Student blogger: Adriana Grossman

Bruce Altshuler, New York University

Bruce Altshuler, New York University

On February 18th, the Curator in the Museum class was lucky to have Dr. Bruce Altshuler as a guest lecturer. Dr. Altshuler is currently the Director of the Program in Museum Studies at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University, and part of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA/USA), the American Association of Museums, and the College Art Association. It was particularly exciting to be able to speak to someone currently active in the field of museum studies, given the potential beginnings of a museum studies department at Bryn Mawr College. He is also the author of Salon to Biennial—Exhibitions That Made Art History, Volume I: 1863–1959, and is currently at work on the second volume.


Though we were all initially a little intimidated by Dr. Altshuler’s background, a congenial tone was set from the very beginning of the class period when he asked us all to introduce ourselves and explain why we were interested in the field of museum studies. Every answer varied, proving just how many other concentrations could lend themselves to the field and how broad the field itself is. Dr. Altshuler himself studied philosophy before entering the art world. He spoke to us about his beginnings in the commercial art world, working as a dealer with Zabriski Gallery. Zabriski Gallery specializes in Dada, Surrealism, American Modernism, photography, and contemporary art, the last of which is Dr. Altshuler’s primary area of interest, along with the history of exhibitions. He then told us a little about his experiences as director of the Noguchi Museum from 1992 to 1998.


The last topic that we discussed was museum studies. As Dr. Altshuler made clear to us in telling us about his varied career, museum studies is a field that can be applied in a broad range of ways, the direction of which ultimately depends upon personal preference and the research that one chooses to undertake. The Museum Studies program has been offered at New York University for over three decades, and is still relatively young as a field of study. Dr. Altshuler suggested that this was perhaps because the field is hard to define given how much it has to encompass. Indeed, museum studies requires academic work to engage museum theory and practice, including the history of the institutions as well as the artworks within them, as well as preparation to be involved with more hands-on roles in the workings of a museum. (We recently got to do a little hands-on work ourselves, and will continue to be doing so as our class exhibition “Making Our World” progresses.) In other words, it is everything to do with running a museum.


As was made clear in our discussions with Dr. Altshuler, museum studies is a field that will only continue to grow. Since its inception, it is a field that has come to many different institutions and is still burgeoning, as is evidenced by the suggestion of such a field of study at Bryn Mawr College.




TriArte – What do YOU want to see?

We are in the process of preparing to remove the IP restrictions from TriArte which will allow people outside of the tri-college community access to our Art and Artifacts Database. As part of this process we are evaluating what information should be displayed.  Currently we display information such as: Artist, Artist Life Dates, Creation Date, Period/Era/Dynasty, Title, Geographic Region of Origin, Donor, BMC Accession Number, Classification, Keywords and Images.

Is the information we are displaying useful to you?  Below is a sample, a screen-shot of P.89 an Attic Black-Figure Neck-Amphora (Storage Vessel) as currently displayed in TriArte.

We’d like to hear from you.  What additional information would you like to see?  We have been considering adding the following information:

  • Publications citing the object
  • Exhibitions containing the object
  • Description of the object: for example the description for P.89 an Attic Black-Figure Neck-Amphora (Storage Vessel) could be: This amphora’s shoulders are painted with a pair of eyes with eyebrows, framed by standing male figures holding spears. The decoration is completed by the painted nose and the handles, which were called “ears” in ancient Greek. The amphora is a striking example of the Greek tendency to anthropomorphize pottery; by the Late Archaic period, the eye motif was quite common on drinking cups. When the eye motif is found on amphorae, it may suggest that they, too, were used in a symposium setting. This vase belongs to a small group of amphorae with similar decoration by a painter in the circle of the Antimenes Painter, one of the major vase-painters of his time.
  • Location for the object if currently on public view
  • Related web resources such as the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Video on Making Greek Vases:  http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/videoDetails?segid=373.

Robert Darnton to speak at Bryn Mawr on Digital Libraries

Robert Darnton, Director of the University Library at Harvard University and one of the preeminent scholars on France in the  eighteenth century will speak at Bryn Mawr College Thursday, November 8th at 7:30 pm in the Thomas Great Hall.   The title of his lecture is Digitize, Democratize: Libraries and the Future of Books.

His articles on ebooks and the proposed Digital Public Library of America in the New York Review of Books, the New York Times and other publications in recent years have made him one of the the most influential and widely read figures on the future of books, scholarship, and academic libraries.  Links to several of his major articles on digital libraries are at the end of this post.

Robert Darnton taught at Princeton from 1968 until 2007, when he became Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library at Harvard.  He has served as a trustee of the New York Public Library and  as president of the American Historical Association.  Among his honors are a MacArthur Prize Fellowship, a National Book Critics Circle Award, election to the French Legion of Honor, and the National Humanities Medal conferred by President Obama in February 2012.  He has been a member of the Digital Public Library of America Steering Committee since its founding in 2010.

He has written and edited many books, including The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclopédie, The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History, and The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Prerevolutionary France.  His latest books are The Case for Books (2009), The Devil in the Holy Water, or The Art of Slander in France from Louis XIV to Napoleon (2010), and Poetry and the Police: Communication Networks in Eighteenth-Century Paris (2010).

His lecture at Bryn Mawr is sponsored by the Friends of the Bryn Mawr College Libraries.  The event is free and open to the public.  For information, call 610-526-6576 or email SpecColl@brynmawr.edu.

Below are links to Robert Darnton’s major articles on digital libraries:

Jefferson’s Taper: a National Digital Library, New York Review of Books, November 24, 2011

Google’s Loss, the Public’s Gain New York Review of Books, April 28, 2011

The Library: Three Jeremiads  New York Review of Books, December 23, 2010

Can We Create a National Digital Library?  New York Review of Books, October 28, 2010

Google and the New Digital Future  New York Review of Books, December 17, 2009

Google and the Future of Books  New York Review of Books, February 12, 2009

The Library in the New Age  New York Review of Books, June 12, 2008




“Furness in Space”

"Red Leaf" (Henszey residence, Ardmore, PA, Furness and Evans, 1881), in Wells and Hope, A Survey of Philadelphia Suburban Homes, 1889. Image courtesy the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Special Collections is hosting three new exhibitions this fall: we’ll be posting on all three of them over the next two weeks. One show, “Furness in Space,” organized by Professor Jeffrey Cohen (Growth & Structure of Cities) and his students, is being installed in Canaday Library lobby this week.

Professor Cohen, who, along with scholars, architectural historians, and preservation activists, has pushed for the documentation and preservation of endangered and little-understood suburban Furness homes, recently summarized the approach he and his students took to the exhibition, which is on view through the end of the semester:

“In his designs for houses outside the city, Frank Furness (1839-1912) found himself in a venue and moment of almost untrammeled possibilities. Old architectural formulations projecting social prominence had been cast off by a heady new generation of architects who seized center stage in the decades after the Civil War, and they set about creating new ones. They were called upon by a host of new men of substantial means, many of them successful entrepreneurs who sought to celebrate their individuality and licensed their architects to devise forms of distinction for them. Few were as well suited to such a task as Frank Furness.

“This exhibition represents the work of students in classes in the Growth & Structure of Cities Department, along with several collaborators, who explored Furness’s country and suburban houses with a special eye to new architectural imageries and to patterns of spatial disposition in such works. It also seeks to situate his designs in dialogue with those of his contemporaries, helping us reimagine the contingency of this episode of architectural ferment in the 1870s and 1880s.”

Furness in Space: The Architect and Design Dialogues on the late 19th-century Country House
Canaday Library, Bryn Mawr College, 14 October – 21 December 2012