Designing Tomorrow


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America's World's Fairs of the 1930s

Edited by Robert W. Rydell and Laura Burd Schiavo; With contributions by Robert Bennett, Matthew Bokovoy, Robert Alexander Gonzalez, Neil Harris, Lisa D. Schrenk, Kristina Wilson, and Richard Guy Wilson

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In the midst of the Great Depression, America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s gave hope to millions, sustaining the assembled with visions of future progress. These grand expositions in Chicago, San Diego, Dallas, Cleveland, New York, and San Francisco showcased an optimistic, consumerist future society and symbolized the Modernist message of progress through design.

Designing Tomorrow celebrates the influence and impact of these international expositions. Offering an overview of the fairs and detailed discussions of individual works, distinguished authors examine how designers reconciled radical “European” Modern style with American tradition. Works by Edward H. Bennet, Gilbert Rohde, George Keck, Richard Neutra, and others illuminate the ways in which Modernism became an integral component of the vocabulary of American design.  Additional essays highlight the visual power of these expositions, featuring rare artifacts and photographs of objects including models and plans for “the houses and cities of tomorrow,” streamlined trains, modern furnishings, and the first televisions.

Published in association with the National Building Museum

Exhibition Schedule:

National Building Museum(10/02/10 – 07/10/11)

Robert Bennett is assistant professor at Montana State University and author of Deconstructing Post-WWII New York City: The Literature, Art, Jazz, and Architecture of an Emerging Global Capital. Matthew Bokovoy is acquisitions editor for Native American and Indigenous Studies and the history of the American West at the University of Nebraska Press, and author of
The San Diego World's Fairs and Southwestern Memory, 18801940. Robert Alexander González is assistant professor at Tulane University and the founding editor of the international journal Aula: Architecture and Urbanism in Las Américas, and author of Designing Pan-America: U.S. Architectural Visions for the Western Hemisphere. Neil Harris is the Preston and Sterling Morton Professor Emeritus of History and Art History at the University of Chicago. His books include The Artist in American Society: The Formative Years, 1790–1860; Humbug: The Art of P. T. Barnum; Cultural Excursions: Marketing Appetites and Cultural Tastes in Modern America; and Building Lives: Constructing Rites and Passages (Yale). Robert W. Rydell is professor of history at Montana State University. His books include World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions and All the World’s a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1976–1916. Laura Burd Schiavo is assistant professor of museum studies at George Washington University and author of Washington Images: Rare Maps and Prints from the Albert H. Small Collection. Lisa D. Schrenk is associate professor of architecture and art history at Norwich University and author of Building a Century of Progress: The Architecture of Chicago’s 1933–34 World’s Fair. Kristina Wilson is associate professor of art history at Clark University and author of Livable Modernism: Interior Decorating and Design in the Great Depression (Yale) and The Modern Eye: Stieglitz, MoMA, and the Art of the Exhibition, 1925–1934 (Yale). Richard Guy Wilson holds the Commonwealth Professor’s Chair in Architectural History at the University of Virginia. His books include The Machine Age in America; Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village; Colonial Revival House; and Harbor Hill: Portrait of a House.


National Building Museum(10/02/10 – 07/10/11)

"Designing Tomorrow is well designed and uses a clean, modern font.  The essays are scholarly but not so dense that they cannot be digested by non-experts. . . . [It is] an excellent addition to an architecture or design library collection."—Shannon L. Klug, ARLIS/NA Reviews

"Thanks to this book's beautiful design and exceptional reproductions of archival imagery, understanding how convincingly these world's fairs embodied dreams of a new modern future is easier than ever. Highly recommended."—J.E. Housefield, Choice

“… informative, rich and coherent work that proves particularly relevant given its publication at another moment of economic turmoil.”—Julia Tatiana Bailey, Burlington Magazine

ISBN: 9780300149579
Publication Date: October 19, 2010
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the National Building Museum
224 pages, 8 1/2 x 10
102 b/w + 30 color illus.
Livable Modernism

Interior Decorating and Design During the Great Depression

Kristina Wilson

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The Clark Brothers Collect

Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings

Michael Conforti, James A.

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The Modern Eye

Stieglitz, MoMA, and the Art of the Exhibition, 1925-1934

Kristina Wilson

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Art for Every Home

Associated American Artists, 1934–2000

Edited by Elizabeth G.

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