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Design & History: The Past is Always Present

May 15 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


Design & History: The Past is Always Present
Week 8: American Excess: Wealth and Taste in the Late 19th Century

At the end of the 19th century, a few citizens of the United States saw a rise in wealth that had previously been the exclusive purview of the nobility. If it was the peculiar circumstances of the American experiment that gave rise to their wealth, it is clear–in hindsight–that their notions of taste were rooted in old world ideas of class, culture, and wealth. This session examines the homes and collections of Isabella Stewart Gardner, Andrew Carnegie, the Vanderbilts, and others to explore how their aesthetics developed and how they continue to impact our understanding of art and architecture today.

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 15
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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Monmouth County, NJ 07722 United States
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