SAH Newsletter

Art Institute of Chicago Architecture Department Plans Permanent Gallery

by Matthew Messer | Aug 03, 2016
Zoë Ryan is the John H. Bryan chair and curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. Few have likely spent as much time thinking about how architecture and design should be shown in museums as Ryan. In fact, she is writing a book about it. Along with working on that book, Ryan is also in the process of launching a new gallery at the Art Institute, to showcase the museum’s vast Architecture and Design Collection. Outside of the Architectural Fragments gallery, permanently on display in the museum’s Grand Staircase, much of this collection has never been seen by the public. 

Currently, Ryan, associate curator Alison Fisher, and assistant curator Karen Kice are surveying and documenting the entire catalogue in order to better understand the museum’s holdings. That information will help the team position the work and fill any gaps in the collection, which is rich with pieces by architecture and design’s most vaunted names, balanced with work by many lesser-known figures. Rather than create a purely chronological or historical display, Ryan is interested in rethinking established architecture and design narratives. The new gallery will be spaces of exhibition experimentation, with pieces and shows periodically rotating. Work will be shown in such a way to draw new connections between figures, movements, and times.

“The collection gallery will be a testing ground for rethinking how we display architecture and design,” Ryan said. “We will continually rethink, refresh, and redo the exhibition rotations to forge new connections, emphasize a range of narratives, and continually question what the history of architecture and design means today, in our time of rapid social, cultural, and political change.”

Read full article here

Ms. Ryan, Ms. Fisher and Ms. Kice were honored by the Society of Architectural Historians for Excellence in Architectural Stewardship in November, 2013.
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