Press Release: The House That Modernism Built

MARCH 30, 2016

For Immediate Release

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art Celebrates Midcentury Modern Design with The House That Modernism Built

Exhibition pairs select works from the museum’s mid-20th century art collection with innovative furniture, textile and ceramic designs

(Charlotte, NC – Wednesday, March 16, 2016) On Thursday, March 24 the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art will present The House That Modernism Built, a major exhibition that will present the Bechtler Museum of Modern Arts’ rich mid-20th century art collection alongside furniture, textile and ceramic holdings on loan from various institutions including Eames Office, Herman Miller Archives, Alexander Girard Studios, The Henry Ford, the Gregg Museum of Art & Design, Voya Financial and private lenders around the country. Over 200 works will be on view, including more than 20 from the Bechtler collection that have never been seen by the public.

Organized thematically, the exhibition will illustrate how the modern aesthetic shaped people’s lives during the 20th century throughout the United States and the affinity of aesthetic and philosophical principles that influenced art and design during this period.  In particular, the show will emphasize process, examining how designers and artists considered and tackled projects and problems, and how the innovations in other disciplines from the sciences to the humanities influenced their direction and thinking. To trace the creative process and critical approach to problem solving, the exhibition will include prototypes, design plans with manufactured pieces alongside studies and final works.

While the scope of the show will be international, it will draw attention to design innovations particularly embraced in the United States with a regional focus on production in North Carolina. Ceramics on view that have been designed by North Carolina institutions include Jug Town Pottery, North State Pottery Company, Hyalyn, Pisgah Forest, and the Cole family.

“The Bechtler is exceptionally proud to present this visually rich and intellectually stimulating exhibition whose great strength—the remarkable variety and rarity of the works included—could only have been possible because of the inspiring generosity of our many lenders and the vision of our curator, Jennifer Sudul Edwards Ph.D.,” said John Boyer, President and CEO of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibition explores several themes, principally among them are the creative process and the utopian ideal that thoughtful design would improve the human condition.

Artists and designers featured in The House That Modernism Built include Victor Vasarely, Zoltan Kemeny, Kenneth Noland, Roy Lichtenstein, Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard, Eero Saarinen, Florence Knoll, Charlotte Perriand, George Nakashima, Harry Bertoia, Mies van de Rohe, Gilbert Rohde, Robert Propst, Marcel Breuer, Jack Larsen, and Maija Isola. Designs included in the exhibition range from the ideal — Action Office II designed by Robert Propst to demonstrate how a modular-panel system, incorporating work surfaces and storage units, could shape a seemingly organic workplace —to the grand— a geodesic dome created as an economical, efficient way to address the post-World War II housing shortage and celebrates Buckminister Fuller’s design innovations during his tenure at Black Mountain College. There are extensive displays dedicated to the work of Charles and Ray Eames including the evolution of their LCW chair, prototypes leading to the final version of the Aluminum Group chair, and an installation of their Eames Contract Storage. Herman Miller marketed this modular bedroom set which included a murphy bed, a desk and shelving unit, and a closet (additional units could be added as needed) beginning in 1961 and one of the first major clients included the Charlotte YMCA (what is now the Dowd location).  

The works date from 1920 through 1980, but the groundbreaking choices of material and manufacturing processes by these makers remain vital, revealing how these larger principles of modernism continue to resonate in our lives today. 

The House That Modernism Built is curated by Jen Sudul Edwards, Ph.D.

For the general public, tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, students, and educators, $4 for youth ages 11 to 18, and free for children age 10 and under. For more information visit or call 704.353.9200.

The Museum will offer an array of exhibition-related programming, including lectures, films and evening and family activities.

Exhibition Corporate Sponsors

The House That Modernism Built is made possible by the generous support of our corporate sponsors Belk, Inc., Lowe’s, and EY.

About Belk, Inc.

Belk, Inc., a private department store company based in Charlotte, N.C., is the home of Modern. Southern. Style. with 293 Belk stores located in 16 Southern states and a growing digital presence. Belk is a portfolio company of Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm based in New York. Belk and offer a wide assortment of national brands and private label fashion apparel, shoes and accessories for the entire family along with top name cosmetics, a wedding registry and a large selection of quality merchandise for the home.

Belk offers many ways to connect via digital and social media, including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google Plus, and provides exclusive offers, fashion updates, sales notifications and coupons via email or mobile phone text messages. Customers can also download the latest Belk mobile apps for the iPad, iPhone or Android.

About Lowe’s

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW) is a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company serving over 16 million customers a week in the United States, Canada and Mexico through its stores and online at, and With fiscal year 2015 sales of $59.1 billion, Lowe’s has more than 1,855 home improvement and hardware stores and 270,000 employees. Founded in 1946 and based in Mooresville, N.C., Lowe’s supports the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. For more information, visit

About EY

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization and may refer to one or more of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit

Exhibition Individual Sponsors

The House That Modernism Built has been made possible by the individual support of Peggy and Robert Culbertson, Shannon and Michael A. Jones, and Lorne Lassiter and Gary Ferraro.  The exhibition’s Geodesic Dome has been provided by David K. and Cassandra S. Wagner.

About the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to the exhibition of mid-20th century modern art. It is named after the family of Andreas Bechtler who assembled and inherited a collection created by seminal figures of modernism. The museum is located at Levine Center of the Arts, 420 South Tryon Street, Charlotte 28202. Operating hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Tuesdays. For museum details visit


ARTWORK IMAGES: Artwork images from The House That Modernism Built are available upon request. Contact, Sharon Holm, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art Director of Marketing and Communications at or office 704.353.9204 / mobile 704.975.2363.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Holm Bechtler Museum of Modern Art Director of Marketing and Communications at or office 704.353.9204 / mobile 704.975.2363.

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Media Contact

Hillary Hardwick
Vice President of Marketing and Communications
704.353.9204 (office)

ex © 2023 Bechtler Museum of Modern Art All images and content copyright. All rights reserved. Credits: Design: MODE. Artwork Photography: JoAnn Sieburg-Baker, David Ramsey General Photography: Eric Bahrs, Mitchell Kearney, Gary O'Brien, Nancy Pierce, Maxim Vakhovskiy Copywriting: Pam Davis Charlotte Skyline Photo: courtesy of Visit Charlotte School of Paris: John Boyer (Copy), MODE (Design)
© 2023 Bechtler Museum of Modern Art | 420 South Tryon Street | Charlotte, North Carolina 28202 | 704.353.9200