Lectures and Events

Don’t miss the Soane Foundation’s 2023/24 lectures and events.
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Celebrate the Season

Holiday Party

Friday, December 1, 6 PM to 8 PM at The Links Club, 36 E. 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065

Join us on Friday, December 1st from 6pm to 8pm as we celebrate the season and the spirit of Sir John Soane whose brilliant little museum in London continues to inspire contemporary culture through its founder’s passion for art, architecture, and history. We look forward to a festive evening sharing holiday cheer together with drinks and hors d'oeuvres at The Links Club (36 E. 62nd Street, New York, NY).

Please note The Links Club dress code requires jacket and tie. No denim or sneakers.

2023/2024 Lecture Series:
A Scenic Vision

Special Lecture by Bruce Boucher

"The Soane Museum and what is to come of it?"

Monday, October 30, 2023 at 6:30 PM, The Union Club, 101 E 69 St, New York, NY 10021

The title above comes from an article published in The Builder in 1859, which summed up the puzzlement of the general public as to the purpose of Sir John Soane’s Museum. Sir John conceived of his house and museum as an academy for the enlightenment of the general public as well as a catalyst for the creation of new art by future generations, and he took the controversial step of promoting a private bill in Parliament to establish it as a new national museum in 1833. In so doing, Soane created challenges that successive trustees, curators, and the public have grappled with for almost two centuries. Drawing on research for his forthcoming book on Soane as a collector, Mr. Boucher will focus upon how these challenges were met as well as the synchronicity of between the rehabilitation of Soane’s Museum with the rehabilitation of his reputation as an architect.

About the Speaker
Bruce Boucher
became Deborah Loeb Brice Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum in May of 2016. He studied at Harvard University, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar), and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He taught for over twenty years at University College London before entering the museum world as curator and head of European Sculpture, Decorative Arts, and Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. His book about Sir John Soane as a collector will soon be published.

2022/2023 Lecture Series: Interior Architecture and the Object

Watch Now

An Online Lecture

Artifacts of Memory: Finding Inspiration in the Legacy of Sir John Soane

Thursday, June 15 at 12 PM EDT, Online only

Soane Foundation Museum Fellow Jerome Tryon will speak about the inspiration he found working at the Soane Museum.

Jerome Tryon, winner of a SJSMF Graduate Fellowship in 2020, discusses the drawings he created during his stay at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. His research focused on memory and its relationship to spatial perception and architectural design. In executing his project, Tryon examined Soane’s manuscript “Crude Hints Towards an History of My House in Lincoln's Inn Fields” in which Soane imagined his home as a future ruin, visited by those who would speculate about its origins and function. Inspired by the manuscript, Tryon produced drawings from his own memory of the house museum based on his reflection on Soane’s use of memory in his design process.
Link to Purchase Manuscript
About the Speaker
Jerome Tryon
has a Master’s in Architecture from Yale University (2020) and has continued his work there as a critic at the School of Architecture. After earning his degree, he received the William Wirt Winchester Fellowship and the Rieger Graham Prize of the Institute of Classical Art and Architecture (ICAA) supporting his research at the American Academy in Rome. Tryon’s interest in the role that memory plays in shaping perception and the way the two intersect with architectural space is the foundation of his design process. His work has been showcased on Domus, Casabella, Archinect, Wallpaper*, and Study Architecture. His drawings have also been published in Yale’s Retrospecta 42 and Paprika!, and ICAA’s Classicist 16. In addition to his Soane Graduate Fellowship, Tryon has also won grants and fellowships from the Cavin Family, Olson Kundig, and the ICAA.

An Online Lecture

Inhabiting Soane's Office: A Look into its History and Recent Restoration

Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 12:00 PM EDT, Online only

Helen Dorey will discuss the restoration of Sir John Soane's Drawing Office.

Photo credit: Gareth Gardner

At the back of Sir John Soane’s Museum, perched up above the Colonnade, is one of the world’s earliest surviving architectural drawing offices. Here, articled pupils worked for a quarter of a century carrying out the daily business of John Soane’s thriving architectural practice. Since Soane’s death the Office has been a ‘sleeping beauty’, used largely for storage and becoming gradually more dilapidated. Over the last year it has been restored – with support from the Sir John Soane's Museum Foundation in New York City – and opens this month. In this program, Helen Dorey will talk about the life of the office in Soane’s time and about the restoration work.

About the Speaker
Helen Dorey is Deputy Director and Inspectress of Sir John Soane's Museum, London. She is a member of the Council of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee of the Attingham Trust, and a member of the National Trust Collections and Interpretation Advisory Group. At the Soane, she heads the department responsible for the collections and their conservation and authentic display in the interiors at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, preserved as they were left by the Founder in 1837. For 35 years she has researched and overseen the restoration of the Museum, working with the Director and Julian Harrap Architects. She has published widely on the Soane's collections of furniture, stained glass, sculpture, models, and paintings.

Online Panel Discussion

Architecture and the Interior: Presenting Objects in a Domestic or Museum Setting

Tuesday, May 2, 2023 at 12:00PM EDT, Online only

A conversation on the impact of architecture on presenting objects with Barry Bergdoll, Bruce Boucher and Annabelle Selldorf.

Join us for an online panel discussion moderated by Columbia University art historian Barry Bergdoll and featuring Sir John Soane’s Museum Director Bruce Boucher and architect Annabelle Selldorf.

The conversation will focus on the interaction between architecture and the display of objects through a close look at the design of the Soane Museum and how its innovative use of light and space enhances the presentation of Sir John’s very personal collections.

The speakers will compare Soane's vision for his house museum with his design for the Dulwich Gallery, both of which continue to inspire how we display art, and offer historical context for contemporary examples including renovations of the Frick Collection’s permanent home and its temporary installation in the Marcel Breuer building at 945 Madison.

About the Speakers
Barry Bergdoll is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University, where he has been on the faculty since 1985 and the former Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA (2007-14).

Bruce Boucher is the Deborah Loeb Brice Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum. He studied at Harvard University, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar), and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He taught for over twenty years at University College London before entering the museum world as curator and head of European Sculpture, Decorative Arts, and Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (2002-2009). He is currently at work on a book about Sir John Soane as a collector.

Annabelle Selldorf is the Principal of Selldorf Architects, which she founded in 1988. Ms. Selldorf serves as Lead Designer on each of the firm’s projects. Ms. Selldorf is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the Board of the Architectural League of New York, the World Monuments Fund, the Chinati Foundation, and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. She is also the recipient of the 2016 Medal of Honor from the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter.

Virtual Lecture

Sir John Soane and Thomas Hope: Rival or Disciple?

Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at 12:00PM EDT, Online only

A talk presented by Tim Knox, Director of the Royal Collection

This virtual lecture will discuss the parallel lives of the architect and collector, John Soane, and the wealthy arbiter of taste, Thomas Hope, who were both operating in London in the early years of the nineteenth century. Soane and Hope clearly knew each other, and in many ways their interest in architecture and collecting activities were highly complementary. Yet, evidence of any close collaboration is elusive, and the very complete survival today of Soane’s house-museum and collections, including his Library and personal archive, contrasts only too sadly with the loss of so much of Thomas Hope’s legacy.

This lecture is being given in memory of Philip Hewat-Jaboor (1953-2022), an admirer of Sir John Soane and an ardent disciple of Thomas Hope, whose work he studied and collected.

About the Speaker
Tim Knox
is the Director of the Royal Collection, the private art collection of the Royal Family, and he was previously Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum from 2005 to 2013.


Decorating History: Henry Davis Sleeper’s Beauport House

Thursday, March 23, 2023 at 6:30PM, The Union Club, 101 E 69 St, New York, NY 10021

A talk presented by Mitchell Owens and Thomas Jayne

Join us as design experts Mitchell Owens and Thomas Jayne provide an in-depth look at Beauport House, the renowned home of Henry Davis Sleeper, one of America’s first professional interior designers.

The idiosyncratic, English country-style house built by Henry Davis Sleeper (with the assistance of architect Halfdan M. Hanson) has been called “eccentricity elevated to the level of genius,” by Robert A.M. Stern. Named Beauport, Sleeper’s summer home (later owned by the McCann family) overlooks Gloucester Harbor in Massachusetts. Over the years, Sleeper expanded his cottage to 40 rooms to contain a vast array of historic artifacts and American, Chinese, English and French furnishings. The result is one of the most unusual house museums in the country.

About the Speakers
Mitchell Owens
is the American Editor of The World of Interiors and has been a design journalist since the early 1980s as well as a lecturer on the subjects of architecture and design, the history of decoration, collecting, and garden design. He has held executive positions at Architectural Digest and ELLE DECOR and worked as a reporter for The New York Times and as a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure, Departures, and other publications. He has written on a variety of topics for Rizzoli and The Monacelli Press, including books on photographer Derry Moore, interior designers Alex Papachristidis and Tom Britt, and architects John Ike and Thomas Kligerman. He has also edited historic-design books for The Acanthus Press and his articles have been published widely, from House Beautiful to The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts. He is currently working on a biography of the 1960s style icon Pauline de Rothschild, which will be published by Rizzoli.

Thomas Jayne founded Jayne Design Studio in 1990. His academic training has greatly influenced his design philosophy. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts where he studied with the noted architectural historian Marian Card Donnelly. After receiving a master’s degree from Winterthur museum’s program in American material culture and the decorative arts, he pursued advanced fellowships at the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Historic Deerfield, and the J. Paul Getty Museum before moving on to a position at Christie’s estates and appraisal department. His interest in architecture and the decorative arts eventually lead him to pursue a career in interior design. He was fortunate to work in two of the most influential design studios in America–Parish-Hadley & Associates and Kevin McNamara, Inc.–before opening his own design studio.

Preview Tour

A Private View of Classical Architectural Drawings and Mesopotamia Art at the Morgan Library

Wednesday, February 1, 2023 at 6:00 PM, 225 Madison Avenue

A behind-the-scenes tour of the Morgan Library's special exhibitions


Image: Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Fantasy of a Magnificent Forum, ca. 1765. Pen and brown ink and wash, 329 x 491 mm. Morgan Library & Museum, New York, inv. 1974.27

Join us at the Morgan Library for a private preview of the exhibition Sublime Ideas: Drawings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi and for a personal tour of She Who Wrote: Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia, ca. 3400-2000 B.C. This is an extraordinary opportunity to see the Morgan’s collections of architectural drawings and ancient artwork through the eyes of the Library’s curators.

About the Speakers
John Marciari
, Charles W. Engelhard Curator and Department Head, Drawings & Prints, will give a behind-the-scenes look at his forthcoming Piranesi exhibition, which opens at the Morgan later this spring. He will focus on Piranesi's drawings for chimneypieces and other elements of interior design as well as similar drawings by his followers in Britain.

Sidney Babcock, Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen Curator and Department Head, Ancient Western Asian Seals & Tablets, will lead us on an intimate tour of his landmark exhibition of artworks focusing on the extraordinary role of women in ancient Mesopotamia, including the high priestess and poet Enheduanna, the earliest-named author in world literature.

Please note that space for this event is limited.

Special Lecture on The Soane Museum

A Maze Without A Plan: John Soane's Display of Antiquities

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at 6:30PM, at The Union Club, 101 East 69th St, New York City

Sir John Soane’s Museum has delighted and baffled visitors in equal measure ever since it opened to the public in 1837. While Soane stated that the works in his collection were arranged “as studies for my own mind”, he never explained what he meant by that phrase, leaving it to later generations to attempt to tease out the significance of his display. This lecture will attempt to decipher the method behind the unique assemblage of objects that is embodied in the Museum.

About the Speaker
Bruce Boucher
became Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum in May of 2016. He studied at Harvard University, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar), and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He taught for over twenty years at University College London before entering the museum world as curator and head of European Sculpture, Decorative Arts, and Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (2002-2009). He is currently at work on a book about Sir John Soane as a collector.

Rule and Invention: 2021/2022 Soane Foundation Lecture Series

Rule and Invention

Hidden Masterpieces: Sir John Soane’s Collection of Architectural Drawings

Monday, May 23, 2022

A Webinar Lecture by Dr. Frances Sands

Sir John Soane compiled the first comprehensive collection of architectural drawings in Britain. By his death in 1837 the collection comprised 30,000 sheets, representing works from across the world and from throughout history. The variety and magnificence of Soane’s drawings collection is scarcely paralleled elsewhere, and yet these fragile works are usually hidden away. However, Sir John Soane’s Museum’s new exhibition, Hidden Masterpieces, brings together a small selection of the highlights from among the collection, offering to public view some of the finest and most beautiful architectural drawings in existence.

This lecture will consider the different types of architectural drawings found at Sir John Soane’s Museum, and many of the fascinating histories of items within the collection. We will explore highlights of the collection above and beyond those included in the exhibition, and we will delve into the extraordinary conflation of events which led to Soane creating one of the finest collections of architectural drawings in the world.

About Dr. Frances Sands
Dr Frances Sands, Curator of Drawings and Books, Sir John Soane’s Museum, London. Fran’s research interests lie in early modern British architectural drawings. She has worked at Sir John Soane’s Museum since 2010, first as Catalogue Editor, tasked with cataloguing the office drawings collection of Robert and James Adam – a vast project which is still ongoing. In 2016 she was appointed the Curator of Drawings and Books, taking responsibility for the Soane Museum’s wider collection of 30,000 drawings and 7,000 books. She has written various exhibitions and publishes and lectures widely. Since 2010, Fran has also served as a Trustee of the York Georgian Society, the Mausolea and Monuments Trust, the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and sat on the advisory committee for the Grinling Gibbons Society’s Tercentenary exhibition.

Rule and Invention

Untermyer Gardens: Revitalization of a New York Gem

A 2-part event series with Stephen F. Byrns President, Untermyer Gardens Conservancy

Virtual Lecture
Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Stephen F. Byrns presents a webinar lecture, describing the creation and design of Untermyer Gardens in 1917 by Welles Bosworth for Samuel Untermyer, who desired that it be the “finest garden in the world.” Sprawling over 150 acres on the Hudson River in Yonkers, it was maintained by 60 gardeners and supplied by 60 greenhouses. The Walled Garden is the finest Persian garden in the Western Hemisphere, the Vista is the most monumental garden feature in America featuring 2 ancient Roman columns and the Temple of Love contains 5 waterfalls and 6 cascades. It is a garden of superlatives.

Owned by the City of Yonkers, the garden was in very poor condition and little known until the establishment of the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy in 2011 by Stephen Byrns. Since then, 9 gardeners have been hired, 100,000 visitors came in 2021 and many features of the garden have been restored.

The lecture contains beautiful photos of the garden in its heyday, its descent into ruin and its rebirth. It also reviews the many historical accomplishments of Samuel and Minnie Untermyer.

In-Person Walking Tour
Saturday, May 14, 2022
Untermyer Park and Gardens, 945 N Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701

This tour of the garden given by Stephen F. Byrns will introduce visitors to the history of the garden and its creator, Samuel Untermyer. Built in 1917, it was considered one of the finest gardens in America, sprawling over 150 acres, tended by 60 gardeners and supplied by 60 greenhouses. The design was inspired by garden traditions from throughout the world: Persia, India, Italy, Greece and England.

The tour lasts 90 minutes and involves considerable walking, including stairs and ramps. Only the Walled Garden is handicapped accessible.

Please note that space for the in-person tour is limited, and is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

About Stephen F. Byrns and the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy
Stephen F. Byrns founded the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy in 2011 and is its president. A graduate of Princeton and Columbia Universities, Byrns was a founding partner of BKSK Architects, a successful architectural firm in New York City that was established in 1985. Byrns was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg to serve as a Landmarks Preservation Commissioner on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission from 2004-10. He served on the Board of Wave Hill from 2000-2010.

Byrns lived in Yonkers in the 1990’s, when he discovered Untermyer Park and Gardens. He revisited it in 2010 when told that the fountains had been turned on after decades of disuse. The more he learned about Samuel Untermyer’s garden, the more he was convinced that a conservancy should be established to work with the City of Yonkers to make it once again one of the greatest gardens in America.

A Board of Directors was established, and Marco Polo Stufano, the retired founding Director of Horticulture at Wave Hill, was engaged to be the Conservancy’s horticultural advisor. Sufficient funds were raised to hire Timothy Tilghman to be its first horticulturist in 2011 and there is currently a staff of 7 horticulturists at the garden. Byrns started full-time work at the Conservancy in early 2016.

Recognition of the Conservancy’s efforts has been swift and widespread, with significant coverage from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living, Elle Decor and other publications. National awards have been presented, including the Garden Club of America, Institute for Classical Architecture and Art, Foundation for Landscape Studies and the Victorian Society of America. The gardens are once again a showplace and are attracting people from near and far.

Its website is www.untermyergardens.org

Rule and Invention

Architecture of the Imagination Inspiring Walt Disney at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A Webinar with Wolf Burchard and Patrick Herron

In December 2021, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its first ever exhibition devoted to pioneer cinematographer Walt Disney (now on view at the Wallace Collection in London). Rather than a monographic exhibition, Inspiring Walt Disney explored one particular aspect of Disney’s work: his and his studios’ fascination and engagement with French art, architecture and literature, juxtaposing around 150 Disney sketches, drawings and watercolors with a rich selection of eighteenth-century decorative works of art, primarily from the Met’s own holdings.

To facilitate the unusual dialogue between Disney cartoons and European decorative arts, the Met had to create an appropriate stage set for this exhibition. In this talk, the curator and designer of the show, Wolf Burchard and Patrick Herron, discuss the gestation of the exhibition and its immersive architecture that sought to strike the right chord between juvenile playfulness and academic sobriety. It will focus in particular on the importance of architectural fantasy and innovation in Walt Disney’s animation and theme parks.

About Wolf Burchard
Wolf Burchard is Associate Curator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he is responsible for the recently renovated British Galleries. Prior to joining The Met, he held curatorial positions at the National Trust and the Royal Collection. He read history of art and architecture at the Courtauld Institute of Art, from which he holds an MA and PhD.

About Patrick Herron
Patrick Herron is Senior Exhibition Designer in the Design Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he designs special exhibitions, as well as permanent gallery renovations across all curatorial departments. Prior to his time at The Met, Patrick worked as a designer for the Slovenia Design Biennale, and at a number of architecture offices in Boston, New York and Germany. Patrick studied architecture in undergraduate and completed his MA in architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Rule and Invention

Reimagining the Museum: Between Art, Architecture, and Community

Saturday, April 2, 2022 at The Winter Show, 660 Madison Avenue, New York City

A Discussion with Philippe de Montebello, Annabelle Selldorf, and Guillaume Kientz

For more than four years, New York’s Hispanic Society Museum & Library has been closed to visitors while undergoing a complex renovation and expansion. The full results of the Museum’s reimagining will be unveiled in 2023. In the meantime, join the celebrated trio behind the project for a discussion about the design process and the Museum’s exciting new outlook on the future, from collections and exhibitions to community engagement. This panel is a collaboration between the Hispanic Society Museum & Library, The Winter Show, and the Foundation’s Soane Lecture Series on the future of museum design and practice.

Rule and Invention

Between Memory and Invention: Robert A.M. Stern’s Journey in Architecture

Wednesday, March 23, 2022 at The Union Club, 101 East 69th Street, New York City

A Discussion with Suzanne Stephens

Encompassing elements of autobiography, architectural history, and criticism, Between Memory and Invention: My Journey in Architecture surveys the life of acclaimed architect Robert A. M. Stern and his seismic role in the field of architecture from the 1960s to the present. Join the author for a conversation with deputy editor of Architectural Record Suzanne Stephens about his much-anticipated memoir. By turns thoughtful and irreverent, Stern’s candid account highlights the often-overlooked role that an architect’s life plays in shaping the buildings they produce. Replete with personal insights and humor, Between Memory and Invention details Stern’s youthful efforts to redraw house plans in real estate ads, stories about the many mentors who have shaped his thinking, his struggle to launch an architecture practice in the 1970s amid a recession, and his more than half-century of practice as an architect, educator, and historian.

Rule and Invention

Relative & Evolutionary: Henri Labrouste and the Romantic Lessons of the Past

Monday, November 15, 2021

A Discussion with Barry Bergdoll

Henri Labrouste is the best known of a generation of architects in France who placed the understanding of history as a dynamic process at the heart of debates over rules, standards, and style in architectural practice.

In 1828, the year the term avant-garde entered vocabularies as an artistic stance rather than a military practice, Labrouste rocked the French Academy of Fine Arts by proposing a new understanding of classical architecture and its relationship to the present — and to the very idea of rules, as well as the notion of imitation vs. invention.

In his two most famous designs, the Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve and the Bibliotheque Imperiale (today Nationale), he offered at once a synthetic view of historical sources for architectural design and a radical new way of incorporating the materials — iron and ceramics — of the industrial age.

By the time the Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve was nearing its completion, Labrouste’s close friend Louis Duc offered a prize for architectural innovation. French classicism had been placed on a bold new trajectory.

About Barry Bergdoll
Barry Bergdoll is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University and the former Chief Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007-14). A specialist in the history of modern architecture, he curated numerous exhibitions at MoMA, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Musée d’Orsay, and other venues, including Mies In Berlin (2001), Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity (2009-2010), Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront (2010), Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980 (2015) and Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive (2017).

He is the author most recently of Marcel Breuer: Building Global Institutions (2017, with Jonathan Massey), and many other publications including European Architecture 1750-1890 (2000).

A former President of the Society of Architectural Historians, Bergdoll is the President of the Board of the Center for Architecture, New York.

Rule and Invention

Museum Making: Between Art, Architecture, and Community

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

A Discussion with Thelma Golden and Sir David Adjaye OBE

A rendering of the Studio Museum’s new building. Courtesy Adjaye Associates and the Studio Museum

Thelma Golden and Sir David Adjaye OBE discuss the relationship between art and architecture in contemporary museums and the communities they convene, including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the new Studio Museum in Harlem, which upon its completion will be the first home the institution has ever occupied that is conceived and built for its program.

About Sir David Adjaye OBE
Sir David Adjaye OBE is a Ghanaian-British architect who has received international acclaim for his impact on the field. In 2000, he founded Adjaye Associates, which today operates globally, with studios in Accra, London, and New York and projects spanning across the globe. Adjaye’s most well-known commission, The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., opened on the National Mall in Washington DC in 2016 and was named “Cultural Event of the Year” by The New York Times.

Adjaye was announced the winner of the 2021 RIBA Royal Gold Medal, considered one of the highest honors in British architecture for significant contributions to the field internationally. In his award citation, the 2021 RIBA Honours Committee explained, “Through his work as an architect Sir David Adjaye speaks confidently across cultures, disciplines, politics, and continents. His body of work is global and local, finely attuned as it reflects and responds to context and community, climate, and culture.” Adjaye was also recognized as one of the 100 most influential people of the year by TIME Magazine. He is the 2014 recipient of the Soane Honors, awarded by the Soane Foundation to recognize the creative talent and design ingenuity of our times.

About Thelma Golden
Thelma Golden is Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the world’s leading institution devoted to visual art by artists of African descent. Golden began her career as a Studio Museum intern in 1987. In 1988 she joined the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she launched her influential curatorial practice. In 2000 Golden returned to the Studio Museum as Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs, working closely with Director Lowery Stokes Sims. She succeeded Dr. Sims as Director in 2005. Under her leadership, the Studio Museum has gained increased renown as a global leader in the exhibition of contemporary art, a center for innovative education, and a cultural anchor in the Harlem community.

Color and Light: 2020/2021 Soane Foundation Lecture Series

Color and Light

A Wandering Eye: Color, Light & Culture

Tuesday, September 29

“A winter afternoon walk through medieval Islamic Cairo.” Photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna.

With Miguel Flores-Vianna

Photographer and writer Miguel Flores-Vianna is always on the move, documenting his travels on the commonest of devices: the iPhone. In his latest book, A Wandering Eye, Flores-Vianna shares snaps captured in 14 countries on five continents, recording what he sees with a distinctly romantic eye. Flores-Vianna’s rare vision—trained on the nuances of color, light, history, and culture—places him in the lineage of artists, observers, and collectors, like Sir John Soane, who fashion a transporting collage of images and insights from the material of everyday life. In his talk, Flores-Vianna will take us on a digital journey through some of his favorite photos, giving us a glimpse of the colorful and culturally rich worlds they conjure.

Color and Light

Air/Light/Greenspace: Post-COVID Architecture

Thursday, October 15

Photo courtesy of Steven Holl Architects.

A Lecture by Steven Holl

The integration of air, light, and greenspace has consistently motivated Steven Holl’s work. During a period of global pandemic, the need to carefully consider these aspects of the built environment is greater than ever before.This lecture focuses on past projects of Steven Holl Architects that hold potential lessons for a post-COVID architecture, focusing on principles such as the embrace of greenspace and landscape, maximizing fresh air and natural light, the facilitation of open circulation for social spaces, and ecological integration and innovation.

Color and Light


Thursday, December 10

Rubell Museum, Miami. Photo by Nicholas Venezia. Courtesy of Selldorf Architects.

A Discussion With Annabelle Selldorf and Michael Kimmelman

When museums around the world closed for the Covid-19 pandemic, few could have guessed that they would be shut for more than a few months. Now, nine months later, many global museums remain shuttered or operate under restrictions that would have been difficult to imagine in the “before times.”

What is the future of museums in a post-Covid world, and how will design address — and help shape — that future? Will the core experience of viewing art alongside others be compromised, or improved? How will museums continue growing in their mission to serve as spaces for community gathering and engagement? How will public and exhibition spaces evolve to meet new needs and expectations? Architect Annabelle Selldorf and New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman consider these questions and more.

Color and Light

Color and Light, Paint and Canvas

Thursday, December 17

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Running with Black Panthers and White Doves, c. 1990. Artwork © Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Courtesy Mnuchin Gallery, New York.

A Discussion With Arnold Lehman and Mary Lovelace O’Neal

Painter Mary Lovelace O’Neal is known for her singular canvases that pair bold, monumental scale with layers of unexpected materials — and a striking use of pigments and color.

Arnold Lehman is the former director of the Brooklyn Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art, known for transforming the Brooklyn Museum into a cultural juggernaut over his nearly eighteen-year tenure there.

In our final gathering of 2020, Mary and Arnold will discuss color and light in Mary’s work and the visual arts, from twentieth-century Color Field painting to contemporary art.

Color and Light

Donald Judd: “Color Is Never Unimportant”

Thursday, January 14

Donald Judd, untitled, 1963, Cadmium red light oil on wood with violet acrylic sheet, 20 × 48 5/8 × 47 5/8 inches (50.8 × 123.5 × 121 cm). Photo Alex Marks © Judd Foundation. Donald Judd Art © Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.⁣

A Discussion with Rainer and Flavin Judd

“Color is never unimportant,” remarked artist Donald Judd. “It never occurred to me to make three-dimensional work without color.”

From his early use of Cadmium Red Light pigment to the multiplicity of hues in his iconic “boxes” and “stacks” of the 1980s, Judd (1928–1994) demonstrated the importance of color time and again — always situating color at the center of his spatial practice. As he said toward the end of his life without qualification: “Color and space occur together.” There cannot be one without the other.

Rainer and Flavin Judd join the Soane Foundation to discuss color in their father’s work, considering his world of pigments, light, objects, and architecture — and how we might see Judd’s colorful, uncompromising world today.

Color and Light

From Soane to Ledoux and Back

Tuesday, January 26

Photo by Rolf Süssbrich.

A Lecture By Anthony Vidler

Historian Anthony Vidler speaks to his lifetime passion for the architecture of Sir John Soane, beginning with a childhood visit to the Soane Museum that led to a career in research and teaching — and to the work of another great architect, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (1736-1806). The journey leads from the office of Dorothy Stroud, former Inspectress of the Museum, to Ledoux’s Saline d’Arc-et-Senans (pictured above), and then to the connections, personal and intellectual, between Ledoux and Soane, joined by their common architectural and mystical experiences with the mercurial figure of William Beckford. Both Soane and Ledoux shared a vision of architecture inspired by the Enlightenment’s search for origins. Their experiments in simple geometrical forms were founded on a deep belief in the lessons of history and the role of architecture in society — questions that have continued to preoccupy their successors, from Louis I. Kahn and Michael Graves to James Stirling and Raphael Moneo.

Color and Light

Color Clashes in the Tropics: Oscar Niemeyer, Lina Bo Bardi, and Paulo Mendes Da Rocha

Thursday, February 18

The Glass House (or Casa de Vidrio) in Morumbi, São Paulo, designed by Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1950. Image courtesy of Nelson Kon via Archdaily.

A Lecture By Barry Bergdoll

The Glass House (or Casa de Vidrio) in Morumbi, São Paulo, designed by Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1950. Image courtesy of Nelson Kon via Archdaily.

In 1953, Bauhaus-trained designer Max Bill launched a crusade against the work of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, which he characterized as “utter anarchy in building, jungle growth in the worst sense.” What was at stake? Niemeyer had introduced swagger, color, and playfulness into an architecture that seemed to embody the spirit of Rio de Janeiro. Bill, it was revealed, served as a proxy for the rising ethos and aesthetics of Sao Paulo (as opposed to Rio de Janeiro) practitioners.

In the years that followed, positions splintered as differing approaches to modernism developed and influential Brazilian designers imagined distinct approaches to color, light, space-making, community-making, and urban form. Lina Bo Bardi — whose own house is the closest 20th-century Brazil came to having a rival to Sir John Soane’s — embraced the country’s native and multi-ethnic originality, even as figures such as Vilanovas Artigas and Paulo Mendes da Rocha developed a vigorously expressive proto-Brutalism.

This lecture by Barry Bergdoll will look at the vibrant formal and social experiments of Brazilian modernism in the decade-and-a-half before the coup d’état of 1964 brought two decades of military dictatorship to Brazil.

Color and Light

Exquisite Hues And Magical Effects: The Use Of Stained And Colored Glass At 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields

Thursday, March 25

A view inside the Soane Museum. Photo by Gareth Gardner.

A Lecture By Helen Dorey, Mbe Deputy Director And Inspectress Sir John Soane’s Museum

In 1780, John Soane returned from the Grand Tour with a fresh eye for light and color — daylight streaming through an oculus, marbles aglow in amber dusk, a rich red fragment of wall plaster from Pompeii. In the years that followed, Soane became obsessed with light and the effects it could produce, deploying colored and stained glass, richly pigmented surfaces, and increasingly inventive lighting strategies throughout his interiors at 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields to generate dramatic, ever-changing scenes.

Today, Sir John Soane’s Museum in London stands as a testament to the architect’s bravura manipulation of color and light, brimming with “exquisite hues and magical effects” (in the words of Soane’s friend, the novelist Barbara Hofland) enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year.

In this lecture, Helen Dorey, MBE, longtime Deputy Director and Inspectress of the Soane Museum, will consider the interplay of light and color in Soane’s work and in the Museum to which she has devoted her career.

Color and Light

Interiors Outside: Garden Rooms In The Landscape

Thursday, April 8

Photo by Durston Saylor, courtesy of Janice Parker Landscape Architects.

A Lecture By Janice Parker, Rla

From peristyle gardens and rose parterres to Hidcote Manor and beyond, award-winning landscape architect and author Janice Parker explores the relationship between garden rooms, the landscape, and the architecture they surround.

Garden designers discussed in this virtual lecture include icons of the field such as Gertrude Jekyll, Ellen Biddle Shipman, Lawrence Johnston, Annette Hoyt Flanders, and Janice’s mentor, John Brookes.

Color and Light

Joseph Gandy and the Rendering of the Soanean Ideal

Thursday, May 20

Joseph Michael Gandy, Perspective of eight designs for churches with plan, 1834, courtesy of Sir John Soane’s Museum

A Lecture By Bruce Boucher, Deborah Loeb Brice Director Sir John Soane’s Museum

John Soane is recognized as a master of color and light, elements that he considered fundamental to the “poetry of architecture.” For most of his active career, Soane relied upon Joseph Michael Gandy, a younger and less well-known architect, to present his creations to the public at the Royal Academy’s annual exhibitions. Although he built little, Gandy (1771–1843) excelled in a niche genre of architectural representations that fused landscape and atmospheric perspective, thereby evoking a “lumière mystérieuse” — an atmosphere charged with mystery. Ironically, it is through Gandy’s watercolors, rather than built works, that Soane’s designs are best known today. This talk will examine Soane and Gandy’s unlikely collaboration and the ways in which it enhanced the public perception of Soane’s architecture.

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