Installation at the Farnsworth House Showcases Original Furniture of Edith Farnsworth

Installation at the Farnsworth House Showcases Original Furniture of Edith Farnsworth

After a prolonged closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Farnsworth House reopens its doors with a new exhibition entitled “Edith Farnsworth Reconsidered”, a temporary refurnishing of the country house to reflect its 1955 appearance. Focusing on Dr. Edith Farnsworth’s life and times, the exhibition aims to highlight the untold story of this woman.

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© William Zbaren
© William Zbaren

Dr. Edith Farnsworth, “an accomplished research physician, classically trained violinist, poet and translator, world traveler and music-lover,” is the focal point of the latest installation by the Farnsworth House and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Reflecting its 1955 appearance, the temporary refurnishing of Farnsworth House, lasting nine-month, puts in place originals or replicas of the furniture, loaned, donated, or purchased, arranged in the space according to period photographs. Moreover, “personal effects such as books, ashtrays, dishes, linens, etc. will be placed to appear as though Dr. Farnsworth has just left the room”. The new tour will be soon available to the public, continuing through December 2021 with a VR tour, many programs, and exhibitions to celebrate Edith and her legacy.

© William Zbaren
© William Zbaren

The county house conceived in 1945 by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for Chicago's leading research physician Dr. Edith Farnsworth, was completed in 1951. While Dr. Farnsworth allowed Mies nearly total control of the house design, she refused his furniture pieces in favor of modern furniture by other notable designers, including Florence Knoll, Jens Risom, Bruno Mathsson, and Franco Albini. As Edith started to spend more time at her country house, in the later 1950s and early 1960s, she also added traditional furniture and Chinese antiques.

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Farnsworth House Dining Area looking northwest, c1955.. Image Courtesy of The Newberry Library, Edith Farnsworth Papers
Farnsworth House Interior looking southwest, 1951. . Image © Bill Hedrich, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum, Hedrich-Blessing Collection

In addition, a companion exhibition, "An Untold Story: Farnsworth to Palumbo, 1968-1972" is now open in Barnsworth Gallery, displaying unpublished photographs, blueprints, specifications, and original material samples that tell the story of the home’s original construction under Mies van der Rohe. Moreover, it also showcases the restoration by Peter Palumbo, who purchased the house in 1970 and furnished it with pieces designed by Mies van der Rohe and his grandson, Dirk Lohan.

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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "Installation at the Farnsworth House Showcases Original Furniture of Edith Farnsworth" 27 Jul 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
© William Zbaren


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