News and Events

The newly restored model of Eero Saarinen’s original design for Vassar’s Emma Hartman Noyes House will be on view at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, June 2-September 6, 2009.

The following press release was posted in May 2009 and describes an exhibit appearing that year.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center will provide a view into noted architect Eero Saarinen’s original design for The Emma Hartman Noyes House (1958), part of his 1954 master plan for the north end of the Vassar campus, with an exhibition featuring his original architectural model for the site, on view from June 2 through September 6, 2009.

Curated by alumna Vanessa Beloyianis (Vassar class of 2008), the exhibition will feature the newly restored model—the only surviving record of Saarinen’s original design—along with a selection of drawings and photographs that will help illustrate the inter-relationships of this building, furnishings, the nearby campus architecture, and nature.

Beloyianis and Professor Nicholas Adams discovered the model in 2007, which was, according to James Mundy, The Anne Hendricks Bass Director of Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, “in poor shape, filthy and unglued, and parts were lost.”

Two conservationists, Margo Delidow and Eric Meier from the Museum of Modern Art, worked from May to October 2008 to restore the model—re-creating missing parts, cleaning and piecing it back together. As the original was so detailed, each missing part needed to be crafted in a careful multi-step process. Delidow noted that this “layered quality” is one reason the model is “so appealing to the eye.”

ABOUT THE DISCOVERY
Beloyianis discovered Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen’s model of the Emma Hartman Noyes House in the basement of Vassar’s Main Building on a “treasure hunt” with her adviser Nicholas Adams, a professor of art at Vassar, on December 11, 2007.

“It was really quite an adventure to be wandering through the dark and dirty basement of Main Building, searching for something that was only rumored to exist there, and then to actually find it!” Beloyianis exclaimed.

She and Adams began the search for the model after hearing rumors that it might still be extant. At the time, Beloyianis was a student in Adams’ Art 370 class with an assignment to report on Noyes House. The class focused on Vassar buildings, part of a Getty Grant that the College received to evaluate its modern architectural heritage.

Beloyianis, an art history major, was awarded the Frances Daly Fergusson Prize for her senior thesis on Saarinen’s time at Vassar. She plans to study interior architecture and remains a proponent of Saarinen’s work on campus. As she noted, he designed a building that fits in with its surrounding, while including abstract references to Gothic and Classical architecture as well as a sense of the history of the site’s former athletic field and garden.

ABOUT THE ARCHITECT AND THE EMMA HARTMAN NOYES HOUSE
Eero Saarinen (1910–61) is celebrated as one of the most innovative and prolific masters of 20th-century architecture and design, known for works such as the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the General Motors Technical Center in Detroit, and the TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport, New York.

“On existing campuses, there is the challenge of building proud buildings of our own time that are in harmony with the existing architecture and the outdoor space,” explained Saarinen in 1952 before beginning his work at Vassar. His design for Noyes House meets this challenge by employing modern architectural elements to evoke the qualities of its surroundings.

Unlike many of his modernist contemporaries, Saarinen was always considerate of the character, symbolism, and tradition associated with his designs, and he defined the idea of context broadly. It is for this reason that he became an especially popular campus architect and caught the attention of the chairman of the Vassar College Art Department, Agnes Rindge Claflin, who recommended him as a “very eminent, younger generation” architect to the then Vassar President, Sarah Gibson Blanding.

In 1955, Saarinen began his work on a design for a new dormitory at Vassar, choosing a site at the north end of campus known as “The Circle.” This round clearing dated back to the founding of the college and formerly functioned as an athletic field. Saarinen’s original model, which he presented to the college in May 1956, includes two identical four-story structures and a central single-story structure situated around the northern half of “The Circle,” as well as landscaping around the southern half.

In reality only one of the four-story structures in the original model was constructed, as the cost for the single wing was actually double the estimate for the entire project. The existing Emma Hartman Noyes House on the Vassar campus is quite similar in terms of basic form and detail to his original design.

Saarinen died in 1961 at age 51, just three years after completing Noyes House.

ABOUT THE FRANCES LEHMAN LOEB ART CENTER

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center was founded in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery. The current 36,400-square-foot facility, designed by Cesar Pelli and named in honor of the new building's primary donor, opened in 1993. The Lehman Loeb Art Center's collections chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise almost 18,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and glass and ceramic wares. Notable holdings include the Warburg Collection of Old Master prints, an important group of Hudson River School paintings given by Matthew Vassar at the college's inception, and a wide range of works by major European and American 20th- century painters. Vassar was the first U.S. college founded with a permanent art collection and gallery, and at any given time, the Permanent Collection Galleries of the Art Center feature approximately 350 works from Vassar's extensive collections.

Admission to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is free. The art center is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm; Thursday, 10:00 am–9:00 pm; and Sunday, 1:00–5:00 pm. Located at the entrance to the historic Vassar College campus, the Art Center can be reached within minutes from other Mid-Hudson cultural attractions, such as Dia:Beacon, the Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt national historic sites and homes, and the Vanderbilt mansion. The Art Center is wheelchair accessible. For more information, the public may call (845) 437-5632 or visit fllac.vassar.edu.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Friday, May 1, 2009

About the Arts

Powerhouse Theater

The Powerhouse Theater is a collaboration between New York Stage and Film and Vassar College. It is dedicated to both emerging and established artists in the development and production of new works for theater and film. During an intense eight-week summer residency on the Vassar campus, up to twenty different projects are publicly presented, typically engaging more than 200 professional artists and theater students. Plays, musicals, and screenplays are presented in a variety of forms: readings, workshops, and fully staged productions. Since the first Powerhouse Theater season in 1985, New York Stage and Film and Vassar have served more than 2,000 artists and over 175,000 audience members through the development and production of artistically exceptional and affordably priced performances.

Visit the Powerhouse Theater website

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

Located just inside Vassar's Main Gate, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center houses the college's permanent collection, over 18,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and glass and ceramic wares, charting the history of art from antiquity to the present. The Permanent Collection Galleries feature 350 works, ranging from the sculpted Head of Viceroy Merymose from His Outer Sarcophagus (Egyptian, c 1375 BCE) in the Antiquities Gallery to Marsden Hartley's oil on canvas Indian Composition (1914-15) in the Twentieth Century Gallery. For information on current and upcoming special exhibitions, self-guided and curriculum-based tours, and group visits, please visit the website. The art center is open to the public, and admission is free.

Visit the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center website

James W. Palmer Gallery

Located in the College Center in Main Building, the James W. Palmer III '90 Gallery presents eight shows annually, including exhibitions by renowned artists and photographers, studio art faculty and students, and local arts organizations. Recent highlights included Andrea Baldeck’s black-and-white photo exhibit, Touching the Mekong: A Southeast Asian Sojourn, organized by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; the Vassar Haiti Project’s annual exhibition and auction of imported arts and handcrafts; and Design Inside, showcasing the work of Vassar’s College Relations design team. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. For information on upcoming exhibitions, visit the website or call (845) 437-5370.

Visit the James W. Palmer Gallery website

Music Department

Located in the Belle Skinner Hall of Music, the Martel Recital Hall is wonderfully suited, both acoustically and aesthetically, to music performance. With seating for 500, the Martel is home to the Vassar College Orchestra, Choir, Women's Chorus, Madrigal Singers, and numerous chamber groups and ensembles. The Martel concert schedule routinely includes distinguished guest artists, faculty recitals, senior recitals, and special musical events, such as last year's series of organ recitals celebrating the installation and dedication of the college's superb pipe organ, designed by masterbuilder Paul Fritts. For information on upcoming concerts and events (which are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted), please visit the website.

Visit the Music Department website

Dance Department

The Department of Dance sponsors several public performances each year. Among those, the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre (VRDT) has a series of Works in Progress showings in the fall, a winter Modfest performance in conjunction with the The Department of Music, winter galas at the 1869 Bardavon Opera House, and two All Parents Weekend performances in the spring. The department's Master Class program annually invites at least one ballet and one modern expert to campus in addition to two people in other areas of dance. Public performances and lectures are often associated with these renowned visitors. Guest artists in the past have included: Irina Kolpokova, Arthur Mitchell, Helene Alexopoulos, Gregory Hines, Anna Kisselgoff, Donald Byrd, Edward Villella, Ronald K. Brown, Irene Dowd, Allegra Kent, Gelsey Kirkland, Pilobolus w/Adam Battlestein, Suzanne Farrell, Mummenschantz, Eldar Aliev, Deborah Jowitt, Bill T. Jones, Pascal Rioult, Clinton Luckett of ABT, Bill Irwin, and Donald McKayle. Many of the department's dance performances are in the Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater, located in Kenyon Hall.

Visit the Dance Department website

Drama Department Experimental Theater

Presenting several public performances each semester in the Martel Theater of the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film and the Hallie Flanagan Davis Powerhouse Theater, the Experimental Theater is a place to explore theories learned in the classroom and to experiment with theatrical forms. In the tradition of pioneering stage director Hallie Flanagan, students are encouraged to experience and experiment with all aspects of the theater. Flanagan, who accepted a position to teach drama at Vassar in 1925, founded the Experimental Theater following her visit to the theaters of Europe in 1926 on a Guggenheim Fellowship. (http://drama.vassar.edu).

Visit the Drama Department website

Film

The Film Department at Vassar College hosts a steady stream of guest artists and lecturers and is located in the state-of-the-art Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film. The film program encompasses major aspects of the discipline: the history and theory of cinema, dramatic writing, and film/video/digital production, within the framework of a liberal arts education.

Visit the Film Department website

Archives and Special Collections Library

A rotating series of exhibitions is offered each year by the Catherine Pelton Durrell '25 Archives and Special Collections Library, which is the principal repository of the College's noteworthy collections of rare books, manuscripts, archival records of Vassar College, and other special materials. The library's collections date from the 15th century (the age of incunabula) to the present. Notable examples include books important in women's history, first editions of English and American literary and historical works, examples of fine printing, collections of courtesy and cookbooks, children's books, and rare maps and atlases. The Virginia B. Smith Manuscript Collection includes manuscripts by and about women which were gathered during President Smith’s tenure, such as the papers of Mary McCarthy and Elizabeth Bishop. Also of note are papers of writers Samuel L. Clemens and Edna St. Vincent Millay; early naturalist John Burroughs, historian Lucy Maynard Salmon, feminist and historian Alma Lutz, astronomer Maria Mitchell, anthropologist Ruth Benedict, and physicist Albert Einstein. Archives and Special Collections is located in the Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library.

Visit the Archives and Special Collections Exhibition website