American Style by Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins

American Style by Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins

Author: Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins
View book: American Style

Photographer and sociologist Camilo José Vergara has dedicated his time to documenting the decline of the built environment in several cities across the United States. These cities include New York City, Newark and Camden in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Gary in Indiana, Detroit, and Los Angeles.

The Colonial Revival architectural style is easily recognizable as one of the most prominent in America. It features brick or shingled facades, adorned with white trim and subtle classical details. This style originated in the late nineteenth century and continues to influence classical design even today.

The book titled “The American Style” traces the development of the Colonial Revival from the 1890s till present, with a specific focus on the period between 1900 and the 1930s, during which New York City played a vital role in architecture and decorative arts. Esteemed architects like McKim Mead & White, Delano & Aldrich, and Mott B. Schmidt incorporated elements from this style in various structures, ranging from private residences and clubs to banks, schools, churches, and museums.

With an array of archival photographs and objects from collections at the Museum of the City of New York and other esteemed institutions, “The American Style” offers an extensive insight into the enduring aesthetic of Colonial Revival in the realms of architecture and decorative arts. This book is set to become the definitive record of this remarkable legacy.

Curating Exhibitions: Tips and Insights from a Multi-Angle Archivist

Thank you very much for joining my presentation. I am excited to share my experience with you.

Introduction and background

I don’t have formal training as a curator, but I have a background in theater design, art history, and art studio. I have worked in prop design, set dressing, exhibition materials, design lectures, and as an archivist. Currently, I am the archivist librarian at the New York School of Interior Design. Today, I will talk about three parts of my presentation: a physical exhibition, my own design process for an online exhibition, and tips for creating your own exhibitions.

Physical exhibition at NYSID

The New York School of Interior Design Archives were created in 2013 to celebrate the school’s centennial. Our main collection is the NYSID institutional archives, but we also have approximately 10 other collections related to interior design. In the fall of 2020, we decided to create a physical exhibition in our gallery space featuring the work of design duo Tom Lee and Sarah Tomlin Lee. The curators approached me, the archivist, to use material from our archives for the exhibition. We worked together to select items and design the layout. The exhibition showcased the couple’s influential work in New York City, specifically their unique approach to design known as “romantic modernism.”

Online exhibition creation

While planning the physical exhibition, I also decided to create a parallel online exhibition using an Omeka template. This allowed us to showcase additional material and provide a lasting digital record of the exhibition. I chose a template that aligned with the aesthetic of the physical show and worked closely with the curators to determine the content and visual layout. I scanned and digitized all the archival material, keeping in mind image quality and file size limitations. I also added metadata and captions for each item. The online exhibition mirrored the structure of the physical show, with separate sections for Tom Lee and Sarah Tomlin Lee. The online format allowed for additional features such as PDF booklets and custom HTML formatting for quotes and text spacing.

Tips for creating your own exhibitions

When creating your own exhibitions, consider the following:

  • Think about the story you want to tell and be selective with your content.
  • Consider the visual order of your display and use color backgrounds to unify or contrast items.
  • Use font choices and scale to create hierarchy and emphasize key points.
  • Be consistent with your visual vocabulary, whether it’s fonts, colors, or layout.
  • Think about the mood and feelings you want to evoke with your design choices.
  • Consider the use of context pairings or juxtapositions to create additional narratives.

Creating exhibitions, whether physical or online, requires careful planning and consideration of the story you want to convey. By selecting and arranging your content thoughtfully, utilizing visual elements effectively, and maintaining consistency, you can create impactful and engaging displays. I hope these tips help you in your own exhibition endeavors. Thank you for listening to my presentation. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to get in touch.

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