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One Hundred Years of Architecture in America

May 15 – July 14, 1957
Ground Floor, Central Gallery, Galleries G-8 through G-15

Installation view of One Hundred Years of Architecture in America, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gallery Archives

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: This exhibition was organized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to celebrate their centennial; it was organized and directed by architectural historian Frederick Gutheim. The first modern installation at the National Gallery, this was also the first photographic exhibition and the largest temporary exhibition to be held here. 10 giant (up to 14-by-24-feet) illuminated color transparencies of contemporary buildings, specially produced by Eastman Kodak, transformed the Central Gallery. In adjacent galleries were masonite panels with more than 200 mounted historic photographs of 65 buildings. Production, construction, and installation were handled by outside firms. Eric Paepcke, planting designer on the exhibition staff, borrowed plant material from Dumbarton Oaks and the Botanic Gardens.

The addition of 91 colorful embroidered and pieced banners by Sister Magdalene Mary and Sister Mary Corita and their art classes at Immaculate Heart College, Los Angeles, was overwhelmingly popular. This special decorative project for the AIA Centennial celebration was proposed by California designer Charles Eames. The nuns agreed, suggesting, however, that the theme for each banner be taken from a biblical quotation about architecture. Another part of the exhibition was a collection of original architectural drawings selected to document the contribution of architects to the graphic arts. Since the National Gallery building was not chosen to be included, and some wall texts critical of traditional beaux-arts designs were upsetting to Gallery officials, the wording was toned down before the opening. 3 photographic copies of the exhibition were circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, as were a separate exhibition of the architectural drawings, and another of the banners.

Checklist: Room by room of the installation.

Catalog: 1857-1957: One Hundred Years of Architecture in America, by Frederick Gutheim. New York: Reinhold Publishing Company, 1957.