Exhibitions Collection: 1971 – 1999
Sun, Oct 29, 2023 12pm - Thu, Nov 30, 2023 5pm
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Gallery Remarks: Wednesday, November 8 - 6:30 pm
Third Floor Hallway Gallery
For over five decades, the School of Architecture’s exhibition program has bridged pedagogy and public service by enriching The Cooper Union’s curriculum and New York City’s arts and design communities. This diverse, influential program encompasses over 250 exhibitions and attendant publications featuring the work of celebrated architects, artists, and designers, as well as Cooper’s faculty and students.
Exhibitions Collection: 1971 – 1999 showcases original and reproduced records documenting the school’s exhibitions. Drawn from the Exhibitions Collection held by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Archive, this material illuminates three decades of work, beginning with Education of an Architect: A Point of View—a pivotal exhibition and publication of student projects shown at MoMA in 1971–72. This is the second of three Third Floor Hallway Gallery exhibitions drawn from the collection. The first, shown in the spring of 2023, surveyed the program via exhibition posters from the 1970s to the present; the third, scheduled for the 2024–25 academic year, will highlight collection records from 2000 – 2024.
The school’s exhibition program spans a broad range of subjects and disciplines, from New York City’s water supply system and emerging technologies in digital fabrication to a photographic survey of ancestral cemeteries in Kyrgyzstan and a history of Alexander Graham Bell’s tetrahedral kites. It includes exhibitions that travel to the school from other institutions, shows installed off-site, and site-specific projects. Several exhibitions address the school’s curriculum, drawing extensively from the archive’s collection of student work. The collection also documents three decades of the school’s annual End of Year Show, a public exhibition curated by faculty and students from the Architecture and Art schools that occupies much of the Foundation Building for three weeks each May and June. End of Year Shows highlight exemplary student work across undergraduate and graduate design studios, drawing hundreds of students and faculty each year from architecture programs across the city.
The impact of the school’s exhibitions has been substantial. Coming to Light (2005), for example, examined Louis Kahn’s unbuilt design from 1974 for the Four Freedoms Park memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The show’s favorable press prompted a major gift that revived longstanding efforts to construct the park, which was completed on Roosevelt Island in 2012. A recent exhibition on the New York City-based public art of Costantino Nivola—a celebrated but underrepresented Sardinian sculptor—prompted renewed interest in and preservation of his work, including a subsequent show at the Magazzino Italian Art museum and acquisitions by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA. Likewise, the program’s educational impact extends beyond the content of the exhibitions themselves. Student participation in the production and installation of exhibitions—from shows in the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery to End of Year Shows—is both an important component of the archive’s mission and emblematic of the school’s design studio culture and its commitment to “learning by doing.”
The archive’s Exhibitions Collection is extensive and detailed. Collection records, which date from the mid-1960s, include analog and born-digital curatorial files, promotional material, photographs, and catalogs. In 2021 the school received funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to catalog, digitize, and enable broad public access to these records. Improved access via discovery tools and a public, web-based platform promises to enhance the collection’s educational value and the impact of the exhibitions program—a program that remains central to the school’s evolving pedagogy, its benefit to New York City’s intellectual and cultural life, and its contribution to the region’s broader architecture and design community.
On Wednesday, November 8 at 6:30 pm the Architecture Archive will hold remarks for the exhibition in the Third Floor Hallway Gallery.
Open to Cooper Union students, faculty, and staff.
Located at 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues