Architecture Exhibit at the Boston Public Library

In partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Boston Public Library presented a major gallery exhibition, tours, lectures, and an interactive website dedicated to highlighting Guastavino’s work. The exhibit Places for the People was displayed in a beautiful vaulted room at the Boston Public Library designed and built by the Guastavino Company. The exhibition included historic drawings, photographs, and objects, along with new photographs by London photographer Michael Freeman to help make the art, engineering, and the immigrant story relevant for audiences of today.

The exhibition traveled to numerous location and often to buildings that included Guastavino vaulting. The exhibit design was design as an architectural experience that include artifacts, video projections, and an actual tile construction of the vault.

Title panel for the Guastavino Exhibition

An Immigrants Story: “Palaces for the People is not just about architecture it also tells the story of the Guastavino family and their enormous contributions to American architecture, art, and construction. Their company was launched with the construction of the Boston Public Library 120 years ago, so it is fitting to inaugurate the traveling exhibit at the site or their beginnings. 

Graphic design for Guastavino Exhibition

Graphic Design for Architecture Exhibit: The image/text panels were designed with an arched form to echo the shape of the Guastavino vaults in the room. The large scale of images is also critical to creating an environmental effect.  

Vault construction

Architectural Experience: One of the highlights of Palaces for the People was the construction of a scale model of a Boston Public Library ceiling vault. Students from MIT and experienced masons from the Boston area built vault allowing for visitors to see the layers of this form of arch tectonics. 

Overhead graphics

3-Dimensional Experience: Overhead graphics call attention to the Guastavino ceiling above and also provide examples of their work from other buildings in the area. 

Credits: The curatorial team included Janet Parks, Curator of Drawings and Archives, Avery Library; Professor Richard Wilson, University of Virginia; Professor Christopher Capozzola, MIT; and Chrysanthe B. Broikos, curator, the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C..

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