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From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson's Architecture & Design

01/26/2018 to 04/29/2018
Curated by Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History at the University of Virginia

One of Thomas Jefferson’s most important legacies was his role as a designer and advocate for the creation of an iconic architectural identity for our fledgling country that still endures today. Jefferson’s architectural vision for the United States will be explored in a special exhibition, curated by Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History. From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture & Design will investigate and illuminate Jefferson’s many architectural accomplishments, as well as the classical tradition to which his architecture was aligned. The exhibition will consist of drawings, prints, paintings, photographs and building and construction artifacts, among other archival materials.

As a designer, Jefferson is primarily known for his home, Monticello, and the University of Virginia, established by Jefferson 200 years ago—both UNESCO World Heritage sites—but his architectural career encompasses much more. He designed other houses and major public buildings that helped define American architecture, including extensive city plans for Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Capitol. Jefferson traveled throughout Europe during his tenure as American minister to the French court. As a result, European architecture and garden design deeply informed his design ethos, and can be seen in several of his iconic buildings. Jefferson understood that as the U.S. grew, its built environment would need to be designed and that quality architecture would be of primary importance to the future of the country.

From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture & Design will focus on a number of key aspects of Jefferson’s career as an architect. His early influences and interests, including American landscapes he admired and architecture he encountered abroad that enlarged his view of design will be discussed. Construction techniques and the tools employed in the construction of his iconic buildings will be highlighted, while also addressing some of the issues surrounding the construction by both free and enslaved men. The exhibition will move on to sections devoted to his design of private homes and public buildings. Of particular note will be an examination of Jefferson’s establishment and design of the University of Virginia.

The exhibition represents a key component of the University of Virginia’s multiyear bicentennial celebrations in 2017-19. Among his many accomplishments, Jefferson considered the creation of UVA as one of his most enduring and significant contributions. The university grew from Jefferson’s deeply held beliefs that education of the people is one of government’s most important responsibilities, and that education is central to freedom. Jefferson designed the university, wrote its initial curriculum, chose the books for the library and served as the first rector. The result was an educational and architectural masterpiece that survives today as a testament to Jefferson’s far-reaching philosophy and vision.

Jefferson wrote to a friend shortly before his death on July 4, 1826, “I am closing the last scenes of life by fashioning and fostering an establishment for the instruction of those who are to come after us. I hope its influence on their virtue, freedom, fame and happiness, will be salutary and permanent.”

 

March 16–17 Symposium: New Discoveries of Thomas Jefferson's Architecture and Design

Location: Campbell Hall, School of Architecture at UVA, Room 153

Leading scholars will present new research and interpretations of Jefferson’s work.

Speakers include: Niya Bates, Historian, Monticello; Linda Binsted, Architect, Graduate Student Architectural History; Howard Burns, President of the Research Committee (Consiglio Scientifico), International Palladio Study Center (CISA AP); Marie Frank, Kundrun Fellow, International Center for Jefferson Studies and Professor at University of Massachusetts; Joseph Lasala, Architectural Historian; Calder Loth, Senior Architectural Historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Emeritus; Ann Lucas, Historian, Monticello; Travis McDonald, Director of Architectural Restoration, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest; Louis Nelson, Professor, Architectural History and Vice Provost, Academic Outreach, UVA; Will Rieley, Landscape Architect and Historian; Susan Stein, Senior Curator & VP for Museum Programs, Monticello; James Thompson, Historian

Please register online. ($10/person)

For more information, contact Shelley Miller at swm3r@virginia.edu.

 

This exhibition is supported by the University of Virginia Bicentennial, with funding provided by the Alumni Board of Trustees. 

The Fralin Museum of Art’s programming is generously supported by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. We also wish to thank our in-kind donors: WTJU 91.1 FM and Ivy Publications LLC’s Charlottesville Welcome Book.

Winter 2018