News & Stories

February 9, 2021

Palaces for the People exhibit opens

Oak Hill & The Martha Berry Museum will host a new free exhibition, “Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces,” beginning Feb. 8.

 

Over the course of 61 years, architect and innovator Rafael Guastavino Moreno and his son Rafael Guastavino Exposito created more than 600 unique tile domes and vaultings in the United States after emigrating from Spain in the late 19th century. Their work revolutionized structural engineering and outlined a new standard for safety and beauty in architecture. Significant landmarks such as the Ellis Island Registry Hall, the Boston Public Library, and the Biltmore Estate feature their iconic vaulted ceilings, as do the Ford buildings at Berry College.

 

Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces is a traveling exhibition originally organized by John Ochsendorf, structural engineer and professor of civil and environmental engineering and archlecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The show includes specially commissioned, color photography by Michael Freeman and trademark Guastavino Company drawings.

 

Since Berry’s Guastavino vaults were only recently rediscovered, a supplementary display, “Guastavino at Berry,” will accompany the original exhibit pieces to share Berry’s unique relationship with the Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company. Archival documents and personal artifacts related to the Ford buildings and Rafael Guastavino Jr. will be on display for the first time.

 

“The design of the archways at the Ford buildings capture many visitor’s attention. However, after learning about the Guastavinos and their immense contributions to architecture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the vaults become even more stunning,” notes Rachel McLucas, iinterim director and curator at Oak Hill & The Martha Berry Museum, “I am very excited to share the extended story attached to one of Berry’s most iconic structures.”

 

To celebrate the exhibition, admission is free for the duration of the show through Oct. 23, and tours of the Oak Hill home will have an adjusted price. Reservations are required and can be made at https://berry.ticketspice.com/oak-hill-tours. For more information, visit https://www.berry.edu/oakhill/ .

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Written by Public Relations Student Assistant Reed Couch 

Office of Public Relations

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