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March 20, 2017
Traveling exhibition, The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design, on display at the Museum

[Photos courtesy of Jeff White Photography]

(Huntsville, AL) – A much-anticipated, travelling exhibition is now open to the public at the Huntsville Museum of Art (HMA)—The Art of Seating: Two Hundred Years of American Design. The American Chair Collection, the center of this exhibition, is an amazing and comprehensive private collection of iconic and historic chairs reaching back from the mid-1800s to pieces from today’s studio movement.  Presented by PNC Bank and Davidson Technologies, the exhibition will be on view through June 18, 2017.

There is much more to see than just simple pieces of furniture.  The exhibition, The Art of Seating:  200 Years of American Design, began in 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida and has since traveled to 19 venues.  Forty-three chairs are included in the collection and they exemplify the majority of the important movements in American design over the last 200 years.  

“The Huntsville Museum of Art is proud to present this special exhibit to the community,” said Christopher J. Madkour, Executive Director of HMA. “I encourage you to bring your family and friends to the Museum to view these interesting and historically impactful works while they are in our own backyard.”

The Art of Seating takes the viewer into the design studio through selections from the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D Foundation and offers a stylistic journey in furniture with showstoppers by John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, the Herter Brothers, the Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eams, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, Frank Gehry and others waiting to be discovered.  Among the pieces in this exhibition are also contemporary and historic designs by some of the biggest manufacturers such as Knoll, Herman Miller and Steelcase.

To celebrate the new exhibit, the Museum held a Preview Party on Saturday March 18 that included an opening presentation by the exhibits’ own Dr. Diane D. Jacobsen, followed by a reception catered by Chef Narvell.  Dr. Jacobsen spoke to a room full of engaged guests and touched on each chair’s own history and impact on design.
“Within its objects, one can trace the vibrant and progressive history of this country’s ingenuity and creativity.  While all art is influenced by the design of previous generations and concurrent works in other countries, our collection’s encyclopedic survey of 200 years stresses the formation of a national character and shows the unique history of American decorative design,” said Dr. Jacobsen.  “These treasured chairs tell the story over time of how American artists employed new materials and technologies to create unique sculptures having both innovative forms and functionality.

Since Huntsville has long been known as a center of exceptional engineering, technology, and creativity, I am especially delighted to be sharing the collection with this city and its neighboring communities.  And, the Huntsville Museum of Art, known in its own right for being creative and forward thinking, is a particularly suitable venue.”
Bringing The Art of Seating to the Huntsville Museum of Art and to the Tennessee Valley region would not have been possible without sponsors.  The lead sponsors for this exhibition are Davidson Technologies and PNC. Additional support is provided by Carolyn Wade, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, Alther Howard Design, Alabama Media Group and the Huntsville Museum of Art Guild.   

“The Huntsville Museum of Art continues to provide access to a mix of high- quality arts programming and exhibits that engage audiences in new ways,” said Brian Bucher, PNC regional president for Alabama.  “PNC’s continued collaboration with the Museum reflects our ongoing commitment to supporting Alabama’s economic growth through strategic investments in our thriving arts and culture scene.”

The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville in collaboration with the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.

For more information about The Art of Seating and Museum hours visit www.hsvmuseum.org.


About Dr. Diane DeMell Jacobsen:
Diane DeMell Jacobsen, Ph.D. is a successful business executive, International Affairs Scholar and Art Foundation chairman. Dr. Jacobsen is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and lends her collection of American Art to museums.  She is chairman of the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation whose mission is to collect, preserve and loan masterpieces of American art to museums throughout the country.  Dr. Jacobsen worked with scholars, conservators, photographers, and the curatorial staff to bring The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design together. 

About PNC Bank
PNC Bank, National Association, is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking; residential mortgage banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit www.pnc.com

Samantha Nielsen
Director of Communications
Huntsville Museum of Art
O: 256.535.4350 ext. 219
F:  256.532.1743