Modern Constructions: Works from the Permanent Collection of Architecture and Design

Location and Dates:
The Art Institute of Chicago
May 2009–May 2010

Joseph Rosa and Zoë Ryan

This inaugural exhibition of works from the Department of Architecture and Design marked the opening of the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition included a major survey of modern architecture from the 1880s through today, with a special focus on the rich holdings by practitioners working in and around Chicago that have come to define the museum’s collection. This included masterworks by Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Bertrand Goldberg, Bruce Graham, Buckminster Fuller, Stanley Tigerman, Douglas Garofalo, and Studio Gang Architects. 

A second gallery was devoted to the first works of contemporary design acquired by the museum. Important acquisitions include: the Flex-Foot Cheetah, a prosthetic human foot replacement designed by Van Phillips; the original View-Master by Charles Harrison; and the design for the Obama ’08 campaign logo by Sol Sender. This early test case for developing a design collection helped spearhead a robust collecting strategy of acquiring significant designs with a social agenda. This continues to be the mission of the department today.