A Meeting of Minds: Designing the Freer Gallery

Saturday, May 5, 2018, 2 PM

In this third installment of the Freer Story series, the focus shifts from connoisseurship to the business of architecture and the aspirations of urban planning in turn-of-the-century America. Keith Morgan, professor emeritus at Boston University, considers how the Freer Gallery represents the visual and cultural interests of collector Charles Lang Freer and architect Charles A. Platt. He will examine Freer and Platt’s long-term relationship and the ways in which the gallery’s design represents the meeting of their minds. He will also consider how the first art museum on the National Mall—and one formed from a private collection—achieved the civic, public-minded goals of the McMillan Plan and the Commission of Fine Arts.

Following the talk, Therese O’Malley, associate dean at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, will discuss the significance of the Freer building in the context of the McMillan Plan and the development of DC as a “monumental city.”

Keith N. Morgan is professor emeritus of history of art and architecture and of American and New England studies at Boston University, where he taught from 1980 until 2016. He served as the director of preservation studies, the director of American and New England studies, and the chairman of the Art History Department. He is a former national president and fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians. His publications include Charles A. Platt. The Artist as Architect (1985); Boston Architecture, 1975–1990, written with Naomi Miller (1990); Shaping an American Landscape: The Art and Architecture of Charles A. Platt (1995); the introduction for the new edition of Italian Gardens by Charles A. Platt (1993); and an introduction to a new edition of Charles Eliot, Landscape Architect (1999). Professor Morgan was the editor and one of the lead authors for Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston (2009). With Elizabeth Hope Cushing and Roger Reed, he recently published Community by Design: the Olmsted Office and the Development of Brookline, Massachusetts, 1880–1936 (2013).

Therese O’Malley is associate dean at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Her scholarship concerns the history of landscape architecture and garden design from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, with a focus on the transatlantic exchange of plants, ideas, and people. Her publications include Modernism and Landscape Architecture, 1890–1940, coedited with Joachim Wolschke Buhlmann (2015); Keywords in American Landscape Design (2010); and The Art of Natural History, coedited with Amy W. Meyers (2008). She has also written numerous articles on the early profession of landscape design in America, the history of botanic gardens, and the National Mall. Dr. O’Malley has been president of the Society of Architectural Historians, chair of the Association of Research Institutes in Art History, and senior fellow in landscape studies at Dumbarton Oaks. Recently she was a guest curator of an exhibition at MoMA titled Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive (June–October 2017). In 2016, Dr. O’Malley was made a fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians.

  • Venue: Freer Gallery of Art
  • Event Location: Freer, Meyer Auditorium
  • Cost: Free