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Design & History: The Past is Always Present

May 8 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


Week 7: Classical Splendor in the Modern World: The White City and the Columbian Exposition

In the same decade we witnessed the rise of the Arts and Crafts, the Prairie School, Colonial Revival, and Art Nouveau movements, Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 saw “the White City” emerge from the shores of Lake Michigan to transform American civic design and help spur the City Beautiful movement. If the late 19th century saw an increase in the speed with which change occurred and styles changed, Classicism provided a sense of stability and permanence. Bringing together luminaries like Frederick Law Olmsted, Lorado Taft, and Daniel Burnham the Exposition’s aesthetic–with the notable exception of Louis Sullivan’s Transportation building–relied upon the precedents taught at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in the late 19th century.

Design & History: The Past is Always Present
Writing in 1841, Ralph Waldo Emerson recorded one of the immutable laws of the creative process: “the new in art is always formed out of the old.” So while the Arts and Crafts movement appeared to be a new direction in design, it was indebted to the precedents of our collective past, the shared history of design that was understood amongst its manufacturers, designers, and fiercest advocates. This series seeks to recapture those precedents, not to dilute the importance of the movement, but to better understand it, to wrap it properly in the context of the histories from which it emerged so that its contributions – and the meanings which these objects held to contemporaries – become clearer. Explored in this manner, design is not only practical, but metaphorical, lyrical, and poetic. It speaks to us in the hushed and reverent tones of our shared experiences if we can learn to listen to and discern those muted murmurs.

Registration is required. Once registered and paid, you will receive an email prior to each session with a link to join.

Do you have a scheduling conflict for the live session? You can still enjoy the program. Register and we’ll send you the recording! All paid attendees will be emailed a private link to the session recording when it is available.

Missed us? You can also register retroactively. If you register for a session that has passed, you’ll recieve access to the recording when it is ready.

Haven’t tried a session yet? Each session is planned as a “stand-alone” lecture, so you can take them all or attend the topics that interest you most.


May 8
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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Monmouth County, NJ 07722 United States
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