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Gallery Space For Museum's Design Collection Will See Dramatic Increase In Perelman Building

The collections of Modern and Contemporary Design will see a dramatic increase in gallery space when the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman building opens on September 15, 2007. A new gallery on the first floor will contain rotating exhibitions of one of the country’s foremost collections of 20th century design, which now includes over 2500 objects ranging from appliances and furniture to ceramics, glass, and lighting. The collection’s rapid growth over the years has resulted both from purchases and gifts by designers, manufacturers, private collectors, and COLLAB: The Group for Modern and Contemporary Design, which supports the Museum’s acquisitions and programs in the field.

Easily accessible from the Perelman Building entrance, the COLLAB Gallery for Modern and Contemporary Design will be one of three major exhibition spaces to be located in the building’s new addition that is joined to the original building by a soaring sky lit galleria.

“Increased gallery space means a total transformation of what we can do, making the collection much more visible,” said Kathryn Hiesinger, curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700. “We have so many great objects to exhibit, and now we have the space to do so, whether presenting works thematically or by individual designer.”

Formerly, modern and contemporary design exhibitions were limited to a small space in the main building’s wing for Modern and Contemporary Art. The tightly focused presentations there nevertheless drew much notice, including modern spins on the game of chess, recent innovations in kitchen cutlery, and an installation designed by Florence Knoll Bassett of her revolutionary mid-twentieth-century furniture and office plans. In the new space, visitors can expect exhibitions and installations that survey more material and study design issues in greater depth.

More About the Modern and Contemporary Design Collection
The Museum’s collection of Modern and Contemporary Design tells the story of design as it has unfolded, decade by decade.

Among the Bauhaus and Art Deco objects from the 1920s and ‘30s are furniture by Emile–Jacques Ruhlmann, Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer. Objects from the 1940s and ‘50s display wartime and postwar economy of means and materials, seen in the furniture of Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson’s ever-popular ‘Marshmallow’ Sofa, and Russel Wright’s ‘American Modern’ dinnerware. From the 1960s and ‘70s, the Museum has an important collection of innovative Italian designs, highlighting new forms and the pervasive use of plastic, including Joe Colombo’s Mini-Kitchen and futuristic Living Center and similarly inventive objects from other countries, such as the British Clive Sinclair’s miniature Executive Calculator.

More recent designs shift to Postmodern and Postindustrial styles from the 1980s to the present, including Apple’s ubiquitous yet revolutionary iMac Computer, and new iPhone, many prime examples of Ingo Maurer’s poetic lighting fixtures, and Stephen Hobday’s accessible Single-Handed Keyboard. Acquisitions from the 21st century demonstrate unconventional uses of materials, including Tokujin Yoshioka’s ‘Honey-Pop’ Chair made of 120 sheets of paper, and Jasper Morrison’s cork Stool.

The collection is steadily built by the efforts of COLLAB, a nonprofit organization of Philadelphia-area design professionals. Each fall, Collab presents its prestigious annual Design Excellence Award, which is accompanied by an installation, to a design professional who has made a significant contribution to the field. Past honorees include Florence Knoll Bassett, Milton Glaser, Michael Graves, Jonathan Ive, Maya Lin, Ingo Maurer, Richard Meier, Richard Gluckman, George Nakashima, Gaetano Pesce, Karim Rashid, Philippe Starck with Ian Schrager, and Robert Venturi. COLLAB also promotes public understanding and appreciation of contemporary design through its educational initiatives, including sponsorship of symposia, lectures, tours, and a nationwide, college-level student design competition.

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