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Michener Museum exhibit celebrates American furniture design


The James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 S. Pine St., Doylestown, will present “The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design,” a major exhibition showcasing a comprehensive private collection of iconic and historic chairs reaching from the mid-1800s to today’s Studio Movement, beginning Feb. 9.

Developed by the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville and organized for tour by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C, these works of art have stories to tell about national history, the evolution of American design, and artistry and craftsmanship. The exhibition will be on view through May 5.

Most chairs encountered throughout the day define themselves fairly simply – a place at the family table, a comfortable spot with a great view, a seat of corporate power.

When looking at the more than 40 chairs selected for “The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design,” however, there is much more to see than simple pieces of furniture. “The Art of Seating” provides audiences with a unique opportunity to see chair types that usually reside in private homes, withheld from public display.

Organized by Ben Thompson, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, The Art of Seating takes the viewer into the design studio through patent drawings, documented upholstery, artist renderings and multimedia presentations.

Selections from the Jacobsen Collection of American Art offer 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 Eames, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, Frank Gehry, and others waiting to be discovered.

The exhibition also features contemporary and historic designs produced by such manufacturers as Knoll, Herman Miller, and Steelcase.

Also on view from March 2 to June 9, is “Nakashima Looks: Studio Furniture from the Permanent Collection,” guest curated by Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, daughter of internationally known woodworker George Nakashima and president of George Nakashima Woodworkers, SA.

Rooted in the museum’s deep commitment to George Nakashima’s legacy, the Michener has continued to collect and exhibit modern and contemporary craft, including examples of Mira Nakashima’s own work alongside those of her father. “Nakashima Looks” highlights the Michener’s long-standing focus on Studio Furniture, while providing a window to the museum’s future direction.

Exhibition and programming-related information can be found at