« All News

Unique Look at Pennsylvania Architectural Gems from the “Mad Men” Era

October 14, 2014

Filed under Exhibit Opening, UnCommon Modern

“UnCommon Modern: A Pennsylvania Glossary of Midcentury Architecture” is a unique photography exhibit featuring color documentary photographs that will open to the public on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014.

The exhibit, which will run through April 26, 2015, will feature a series of 40 color photographs taken by Betsy Manning, a Philadelphia-area photojournalist. Each photograph depicts buildings and designs from across the commonwealth that reflect Midcentury Modern influences.

“UnCommon Modern” is the first program of a yearlong look at Midcentury Modern architecture and style by The State Museum and its parent agency, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).

“This exhibit is a glossary or primer on Midcentury Modern architecture,” said Jim Vaughan, executive director of the PHMC. “This exhibit will showcase the diverse aspects and distinctive features of Midcentury Modern buildings in Pennsylvania.”

Midcentury Modern architects, such as Louis Kahn, broke from traditional designs popular before 1930 and instead focused on two basic tenants: form follows function and the honesty of materials.

The Midcentury Modern era, which stretched from 1930 to 1980, took its early design influences from industry and machinery. After World War II the movement was shaped by the promise of the atomic age and futurism. Many buildings from that period featured streamlined architectural elements and modern materials such as smooth concrete, glass window walls and aluminum details.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania and Archives Complex, built in the mid-1960s, is a clear reflection of Midcentury Modern design. On Aug. 1, the complex, honored for its architectural merit, was entered in the National Register of Historic Places. The museum and archives buildings opened in 1964 and were dedicated in 1965.

Manning and “UnCommon Modern” exhibit curator William Whitaker of The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia will be on hand to meet visitors and tour the show at 2 pm on Nov. 2. Admission to the museum and the event will be free and open to the public.

Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania organized the exhibit with funding from the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Media Contact: Howard Pollman, 717-705-8639​