Rachel Grand '21, a history of art and fine arts double major with a minor in museum studies, has curated an exhibition of the Marcel Breuer furniture created for Rhoads Hall in 1938. Bauhaus at Bryn Mawr: Marcel Breuer’s Furniture for Rhoads is on display through June 3, 2020, in the Coombe Suite display case on the second floor of Canaday Library.
Rachel got interested in curating following her participation in the Textiles in Context 360° course cluster last year. As part of the 360°, the students collectively curated an exhibition of early Byzantine textiles. That exhibition was also staged in the Canaday display cases but the students had access to several more cases than Rachel did for her project.
"Having a limited amount of space for this project was an interesting challenge because it forces you to narrow down all the material you've gathered and make very specific choices in terms of what you're going to highlight," says Rachel.
In addition to scouring the College's archives for information on the furniture (some of which remains in use today), Rachel did original research, emailing and meeting with alums at last year's reunion who had lived in the dorms over the years.
"I looked up names off the room plaques and I talked to alums at reunion. Most of the alums I heard from were from the '80s and '90s but I was able to talk to people who were here as far back as the '50s," says Rachel. "Hearing those personal stories and remembrances was one of the real highlights of the project."
Among those Rachel corresponded with was Tineke Van Zandt '83, who wrote to Rachel, "At the last Reunion I attended, in 2013, I peeked into my old room 155 and noticed that it still had the old Breuer furniture in it. I loved that room and that furniture...I thought it was very cool that I got to use furniture designed by someone I'd learned about in a class in high school."
Van Zandt went on to write about having her typewriter on the desk and how, "Near the end of the semester, you could usually hear the clack of typewriter keys and the ding and clank of carriage returns all over the dorm, all night long, vibrating through the walls and from the floors above."
Bauhaus at Bryn Mawr includes a desk, two chairs, and a shelf held by Special Collections and several pieces from original sources, including photos from the archives, past Alumnae Bulletins, and an issue of Architectural Record. Partial suites of a desk, bookshelf, and chest can still be found in Rhoads South 103 and North 155. Several suites are now owned by art museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
In addition to Bauhaus at Bryn Mawr and working on the 360° exhibition, Rachel has done a winter externship at the Haines Sheldon Museum in Haines, Alaska; helped with the recent Lockwood de Forest exhibition as part of a Praxis course and summer internship; and interned in the Special Collections department at the University of Melbourne while doing study abroad.
"I'm still unsure about what I'm going to do once I graduate but I'm definitely interested in museum work," says Rachel. "There are so many career choices that I've learned about these last few years."