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Saturday, June 2 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
(Architecture) From Wreckage to Relics: Conserving and Exhibiting Fragments from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Midway Gardens

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From Wreckage to Relics: Conserving and Exhibiting Fragments from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Midway Gardens A financial failure from the beginning, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Midway Gardens was bulldozed and dumped into Lake Michigan just 15 years after its construction. Nearly a century later, three salvaged fragments from this entertainment center were uncrated at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where they now form part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archive, acquired jointly with Columbia University’s Avery Library. Built in 1914, Midway Gardens was a precursor to Wright’s textile block houses: employing cast stone blocks with complex geometric relief, it embodied a new use for concrete that united ornament and structure. However, by 1916, Midway Gardens had filed for bankruptcy, and many of the innovative design elements employed by Wright were altered by subsequent owners, including Edelweiss Brewing Company and E. C. Dietrich Midway Automobile Tire and Supply Company, to meet the needs of the various industrial aesthetics. These fragments – relocated first to Wisconsin, and now to New York – arrived with structural damages and without prior documentation. In preparation for MoMA’s major 2017 Wright retrospective, the museum’s Conservation Department partnered with Columbia University’s Historic Preservation Program to research and treat the works. Through examination, mock-ups, petrographic and chemical analysis, and research in the newly accessible Archive, the team shed new light on these works’ technology and history. The transfer of these fragments from the built environment – where they formed part of an evolving structure – to the museum collection – where they have become ossified relics – has shifted the way in which they are approached, both in interpretation and in preservation strategies. Their new home in acclimatized museum spaces expanded treatment options to include more reversible repair and loss-compensation materials than those typically used in historic preservation. This paper will cover the results of this year-long project that culminated in the treatment of these fragments, including the development of a technique to create large, vertical fills in cast stone with toned, Paraloid acrylic resin films and sand.

Speakers
avatar for Jessica Betz Abel

Jessica Betz Abel

Andrew W. Mellon Advanced Fellow in Objects Conservation, Michael C. Carlos Museum
Jessica Betz Abel is an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at The Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University specializing in objects conservation. Jessica earned a Master's of Science from Columbia University’s Historic Preservation with a concentration in conservation, as well as a B.A... Read More →
avatar for Ellen Moody

Ellen Moody

Conservator, Museum of Modern Art
Ellen Moody is the Assistant Projects Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She holds an M.S. in Objects Conservation with an additional concentration in Preventive Conservation from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, and a B.A. in Art... Read More →

Co-Authors
avatar for Joy Bloser

Joy Bloser

Graduate Intern at The Museum of Modern Art, The Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Joy Bloser is the Marica and Jan Vilcek Fellow in Art Conservation at The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, earning her dual MS/MA in the Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works and History of Art & Archaeology. She specializes in modern and contemporary objects... Read More →
avatar for Chris McGlinchey

Chris McGlinchey

Conservation Scientist, Museum of Modern Art
Chris joined the Museum of Modern Art in 1999 to setup the science section of the conservation department. Prior to that he worked in the paintings conservation department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where he assisted with technical analysis of the collection and the development... Read More →
avatar for George Wheeler

George Wheeler

Senior Scientist, Highbridge Materials Consulting
George Wheeler is Senior Scientist with Highbridge Materials Consulting. He served as the Director of Conservation in the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia University since 2004 following a 25-year career in the Department of Scientific Research at the Metropolitan Museum... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Texas Ballroom C Marriott Marquis Houston

Attendees (52)