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Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibit Opens At The Milwaukee Art Museum (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 03/16/11 05:17 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:40 PM ET

The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Art Museum is taking a new look at Frank Lloyd Wright on the 100th anniversary of his Taliesin home in Spring Green, with an exhibit showing the organic side of the prolific architect that features scale models, furniture and photos as well as video footage and more than 30 drawings that have never before been publicly displayed.

"Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century" starts with urban plans and a model that he traveled with nationally, trying to promote his vision of a community integrated into the landscape. Wright, who designed houses, corporate and government buildings, libraries, museums and churches in addition to furniture and lighting, saw his plans as the antithesis to cities being too condensed.

"He was very concerned about conservation of materials, conservation of energy, environment, landscape, all the things which are now becoming so pertinent in a planet, which we seem to be slowly – bit by bit – destroying," said Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, director of the archives at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Arizona, who worked with Wright before the architect died in 1959. "It seems like a good time to remind people that there was a good way in which architecture helped people live better and live in harmony not only with themselves but the planet they are living on."

Wright built his Broadacre City model in the 1930s, based on his book "The Disappearing City." He revised and expanded the text in 1958 with "The Living City." Drawings from the book were used by a German museum and the foundation to produce a model in the 1990s. It's the first time the models have been shown together, and will likely be the last time the Broadacre model will travel because of its fragile condition, said Brady Roberts, chief curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The idea was the culmination of Wright's work, but never came to fruition.

Wright was one of the first big-name architects to really care about making sure the building and environment were in harmony, said architectural historian Jack Quinan. The architect first used the term "organic architecture" in 1894.

"Wright's work has endured and is going to be relevant and continue to be relevant largely because of his organic theory – his interest in creating an American architecture that derives from nature, you might say crossed with geometry," said Quinan, who's on the board of directors for the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.

He noted the Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, N.Y., a prairie house Wright designed around 1903, which was considered odd then. It has a south facade where the sun is somewhat blocked in summer but streams into the house in winter. The house also has sun traps – a series of glass plates so the summer sunshine bounces off the glass and up into the house indirectly.

Taliesin, in his hometown of Spring Green, Wis., was Wright's longest ongoing architectural work, as he kept changing it for nearly 50 years. To break down barriers between the interior and exterior, Wright used local limestone and mixed sand from the river into his plaster. He used tall windows in the living room to provide a view of the rolling hills. The windows also provided natural light, which is diffused by the overhanging roof so the house remains cool.

The show also looks at one of Wright's lifelong pursuits, which was to provide affordable housing to low-income residents. He designed the American-System Built Houses – compact, geometric homes assembled onsite with factory-cut materials to reduce costs. During the Great Depression, Wright started developing "Usonian" homes, which were also designed to control costs and had carports but no basements or attics.

Roberts said the exhibition comes as people are changing perspectives due to the financial downturn: Maybe bigger isn't always better.

"So it's interesting now to look at Frank Lloyd Wright and how prescient he was to say, "No, you can have a beautiful house that is actually very small in terms of a footprint but it can feel quite spacious by being opened up to nature,'" he said. "This is very practical and economical, but also it's another thing we've lost in suburban planning, with sort of homogenous cookie-cutter houses."

The 33 new drawings include the V.C. Morris House known as "Seacliff" in San Francisco and the Raul Bailleres House in Acapulco, Mexico – both never built, along with the Seth Peterson cottage in Lake Delton, Wis. and the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, Wis.

A large screen shows a four-season video of Fallingwater in Mill Run, Penn., with sound; a model of the S.C. Johnson Administration Building in Racine, Wis., and drawings of the Marin County Government Center in California.

The exhibit also looks at Unity Temple in Oak Park, Ill., Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Ariz. and the Bogk house in Milwaukee. Four hundred and nine of Wright's 532 completed projects still stand.

"It's hard to think of another architect who was so prolific who did so many different types of projects who never had a dry period," Roberts said.

The exhibit was organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

Take a look at Huffington Post Travel's ultimate Frank Lloyd Wright tour (along with reader-submitted photos) below.

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  • Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona

    <a href="" target="_hplink">Built in 1937</a>, tours are now available every day (except Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter) from 9am to 4pm.

  • Taliesin, Wisconsin

    This Spring Green home is open for <a href="" target="_hplink">2-hour tours</a> every day from 12pm to 3pm.

  • Fallingwater House, Pennsylvania

    This home, built in 1937, is <a href="" target="_hplink">open for tours</a> every day from 10am to 4pm (reservations are essential) and is closed every Wednesday.

  • Darwin D. Martin Home, Buffalo, New York

    This <a href="" target="_hplink">1904 property </a>is currently under restoration, but normally 90-minute tours are available every day except Tuesday and Thursday.

  • Price Tower, Oklahoma

    Wright's <a href="" target="_hplink">only realized sky scraper</a> now serves as a National Historic Landmark and houses a museum, hotel and bar inside.

  • Hollyhock House, Los Angeles

    Built between 1919 and 1921, the home was designed for philanthropist Aline Barnsdall. Tour the home (<a href="" target="_hplink">reservations not essential</a>) Wednesday through Sunday.

  • Guggenheim Museum, New York

    This famous New York museum was <a href="" target="_hplink">built in 1959</a> and is now open every day except Thursday.

  • Kentuck Knob, Pennsylvania

    <a href="" target="_hplink">One of the last homes </a>to be completed by Wright, Kentuck Knob was opened in 1956 in Chalk Hill.

  • Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Illinois

    You can visit the <a href="" target="_hplink">1889-built home and studio</a> of Wright himself in Oak Park. Tours are open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and the last week in January by guided tour (reservations recommended).

  • Unity Temple, Illinois

    Wright was just 38-years old when he got the commission to build the temple in 1871. Of the building Wright <a href="" target="_hplink">reportedly said</a>, "That was my first expression of this eternal idea which is at the center and core of all true modern architecture. A sense of space, a new sense of space."

  • Dana-Thomas House, Illinois

    This <a href="" target="_hplink">1904-built home </a>is open for 20-minute tours 9am to 4pm on Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations are not necessary.

  • Robie House, Illinois

    Created for Wright's client <a href="" target="_hplink">Frederick C. Robie</a> in 1910, the building sits on the campus of the University of Chicago. Tours are open to the public Thursday through Monday (book in advance).

  • Biltmore Hotel, Arizona

    Wright served as the <a href="" target="_hplink">consulting architect </a>on this hotel, opened in 1929.

  • Wingspread, Wisconsin

    Herbert Fisk Johnson commissioned Wright to design his home after Wright created the headquarters for the S.C. Johnson & Son company. Wingspread, a 14,000-foot home, was <a href="" target="_hplink">completed in 1939</a>.

  • Weltzheimer/Johnson House, Ohio

    The <a href="" target="_hplink">Weltzheimer/Johnson House</a> sits a few blocks away from Oberlin's campus. Completed in 1949, the house is open for tours on the first and third Sundays of the month.

  • Pope-Leighey House, Virginia

    This 1,200-square foot Alexandria, Virginia home was commissioned by journalist Loren Pope in 1939. Its second owner, Marjorie Leighey, <a href="" target="_hplink">donated the home</a> to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The home is open for tours Thursday through Monday, 10am to 5pm.

  • Stockman House, Iowa

    <a href="" target="_hplink">Built in 1909</a> for George C. & Eleanor Stockman, the home is opened Thursday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sundays from 1pm to 5pm.

  • Rosenbaum House, Alabama

    This home, <a href="" target="_hplink">built in 1939</a> for newlyweds Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum, is the only Wright home in Alabama. The home is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm, and Sundays 1pm to 4pm.

  • Gordon House, Oregon

    The <a href="" target="_hplink">only Wright building in Oregon</a> (it was commissioned in 1957 and completed in 1963, four years after Wright's death) is open for guided tours of the home 12pm to 4pm.

  • Falling Water

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">Robyne Turner</a>:<br />

  • Child of the Sun, Florida Southen College

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">SLM2003</a>:<br />The Annie Pfeiffer Chapel and William H. Danforth Chapel, Florida Southern College, Lakeland, Florida

  • Greycliff, Derby, NY

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">Jack C</a>:<br />Tours are available daily except Wednesdays through November 28, 2010. Please call for reservations! Basic tours last one hour; admission is $15 or $10 for students (age 10-22 with i.d.) Graycliff tours are not appropriate for children under age 10. Graycliff is located at Box 823, 6472 Old Lakeshore Rd, Derby, NY 14047 Please contact us at 716-947-9217 or

  • muirhead farmhouse, hampshire, illinois

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">Karla Kaulfuss</a>:<br />

  • heurtley house, oak park, illinois

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">Karla Kaulfuss</a>:<br />

  • hoyt house, geneva, illinois

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">Karla Kaulfuss</a>:<br />

  • The Historic Park Inn & City National Bank Building, Mason City, Iowa

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">Claudia Collier</a>:<br />This is the last remaining hotel in the world designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1909-1910). It is currently undergoing restoration and will re-open as a 27-room boutique hotel in June, 2011. It is a classic example of Prairie School Architecture

  • The Historic Park Inn & City National Bank Building, Mason City, Iowa

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">Claudia Collier</a>:<br />The last remaining hotel in the world designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1909=1910). It is currently undergoing restoration and will re-open as a 27-room boutique hotel in June, 2011. A classic example of Prairie School Architecture.

  • The Historic Park Inn & City National Bank Building, Mason City, Iowa

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">Claudia Collier</a>:<br />The last remaining hotel in the world designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1909-1910) is currently undergoing restoration. It will re-open as a 27-room boutique hotel in June, 2011. A classic example of Prairie School Architecture.

  • Sutton House, Nebraska

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">John Linko</a>:<br />The Harvey P. Sutton House in McCook, Nebraska, a classic Prairie Style residence built in 1905. McCook is a charming small community in southwest Nebraska along US-6.

  • Lloyd-Jones House, "Westhope", Oklahoma

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">John Linko</a>:<br />House built for Wright relative Richard Lloyd-Jones in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1929. Reminiscent of Wright's "textile block" houses in California, the residence, attached servant's quarters, and large garage tops out at over 10,000 square feet, large for a Wright-designed reisdence.

  • Rosenbaum Usonian House

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">puddintane</a>:<br />Built for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum in Florence, Alabama. They took residence in 1948. After their 4th child and needing more space, the addition on this end was completed in 1948, adding 1,084 square feet.

  • Taliesin West at Night

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">puddintane</a>:<br />Architecture School is on the left side.

  • Bradley House, Kankakee Illinois

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">Klaus Schuller</a>:<br />Built in 1900 and recently restored, it is open for regular tours on weekends and during the week by appointment.

  • Allen-Lambe House, Wichita, Kansas

    <em>molls73 twitpic</em>

  • Allen-Lambe House, Wichita, Kansas

    <em>molls73 twitpc</em>

  • Gammage Auditorium, Tempe AZ

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">denislpaul</a>:<br />Complimentary 30-minute tours of Gammage Auditorium are given on Mondays, when it is not being used for performances, rehearsals or event set-up

  • Willits House

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">darrenpeister</a>:<br />Considered to be THE most important house because it's his first Prairie house. It's 25 miles north of Chicago. A quiet neighborhood.

  • Emil Bach House 1915

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">darrenpeister</a>:<br />A very small home about 15 miles north of Chicago. A treasure for sure!

  • Monona Terrace, Madison WI

    <a href=""><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="" /></a><a href="">Monona Terrace</a>:<br />FRrank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace, Madison WI


If You Go...



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