• Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.
      Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.

Frank Furness: His City, His World symposium 11/30-12/2

  • Get a crash course in all things Frank Furness this weekend.


Furness Fever has consumed Philadelphia this year, so it’s only fitting that Frank Furness is the focus of this year’s Roger W. Moss Symposium at The Athenæum of Philadelphia taking place this weekend.

Frank Furness: His City, His World kicks off Friday evening with a reception, exhibit opening, and keynote talk by Andrew Saint on Furness’s combative, moody, and playful designs and examine what it is that makes his architecture invite a response. Then on Saturday, an all-day symposium will feature scholarly discussion of Furness's work and life:
  • Martin Bressani: Objects Willfully Shaped: the Realism of Furness and Viollet-le-Duc Architect and architectural historian Martin Bressani will explore the intersections between Furness and Viollet-le-Duc’s design work, contending that both architects were more interested in “shaping” materials into objects, rather than creating “consensual objects of taste.”
  • Jeffrey Cohen: Furness and Identity Architectural historian Jeffrey Cohen will examine expressions of identity that distinguish Furness’s architecture, as a mark of his own persona and visibility of his clients, in a distinctive and modern architectural vocabulary.
  • Michael J. Lewis: Frank Furness and the Evidence of the Sketchbooks Architectural historian and Furness scholar Michael Lewis will share treasures from Furness’s sketchbooks, as early as his apprenticeship through his late work, which blend playful caricatures with design sketches and studies showcasing Furness’s “expressive exaggeration.”
  • George Thomas: “Quaker Philadelphia with its prim manners and serried streets”: Recontextualizing Furness in the Age of the Great Machines Architectural and cultural historian George Thomas’s research places Furness’s architecture within the context of industrial Philadelphia. This context helps explain, he contends, the “disconnect between Furness’ architecture and the critics of New York and Boston.”
  • Maria M. Thompson: From Boston to Borneo: The Furness Family in Philadelphia Historian Maria Thompson will discuss the Furness family’s cultural views and careers, starting with the Reverend William Henry Furness, a Unitarian and transcendentalist, through subsequent generations of artists and scholars.
Symposium schedule and ticket info:
  • Keynote and Exhibit Opening: Friday, November 30, reception at 5:30pm and talk at 6pm. The Athenæum of Philadelphia, 219 S. Sixth St. [$20 / free for students Athenæum members - register online]
  • Symposium: Saturday, December 1, registration/coffee at 8:30am, symposium begins at 9:15am. The Athenæum of Philadelphia, 291 S. Sixth Street. [$75 / $50 for Athenæum members - register online]
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Tour:  Sunday, December 2, 12:30pm. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118 N. Broad St. [SOLD OUT]


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