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From the Library: The Fleeting Structures of Early Modern Europe

decoration04 Feb. 2012|29 July 2012
For centuries, the world has seen its cities enrobed in festive garb for all manner of honorary events. Today, urban centers find themselves revitalized and beautified to host the Olympic Games or celebrate a national holiday. In the 19th and early twentieth century, world's fairs and exhibitions gave cities the opportunity to demonstrate their strengths to the world through public display. In early modern Europe, state visits, coronations, and weddings were among the occasions that provided a city the occasion to stage a lavish production. Artists and architects designed structures and decorations by commission, affording them the chance to experiment with new ideas or encourage city officials to consider new uses of public space.

Drawing on examples from the rare book collection of the National Gallery of Art Library, this exhibition seeks to highlight these temporary structures as they are portrayed in print, to note some of the questions involved in their study, and to explore the influence they may have exerted on the permanent architecture around them.


04 Feb. 2012|29 July 2012
West Building, Ground Floor, Gallery 21, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC
National Gallery of Art
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