Wright Identity

January 2021 View more

From his studio in suburban Oak Park, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) designed more than 1,000 projects over the course of his career. Through images and artifacts of his work, Elmhurst Art Museum’s Wright Before the “Lloyd” exhibit tells the story of this great architect. Curated by Chicago’s former cultural historian, Tim Samuelson, the exhibit features original building fragments—due to fire and decay—that were restored using cutting-edge technology.

As a young architect, Wright struggled to find his identity, exploring modernism, classicism, Tudor, colonial, and Japanese architectural styles. “Wright’s early path to modernism was based on lessons learned in historical styles that people don’t associate with him,” says Samuelson, who retired last month.

At presstime, in-person visits to the museum were suspended, but the Museum From Home resource page on elmhurstartmuseum.com includes hands-on activities, online guides, and videos. A self-guided architecture tour, narrated by architect Robert Bunda, includes 14 Elmhurst structures in a one-mile radius. “Very few communities can boast that they have residences designed by [Ludwig] Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, R. Harold Zook, and Walter Burley Griffin,” says Bunda.

Photos courtesy Elmhurst Art Museum