Cranbrook Art Museum Reopens With SmithGroup Addition


The Cranbrook Art Museum at the Cranbrook Academy of Art reopens today after a two-year, $22-million restoration and expansion of its original building, designed by the father-son team of Eliel and Eero Saarinen. A new 20,000-square-foot Collections Wing, designed by Detroit architecture firm SmithGroup, allows for the entire 6,000-object permanent collection of art, textiles, metalwork, furniture and ceramics to be on view at all times. In addition to the new exhibition spaces, the addition, located to the northeast of the historic Saarinen building, contains a woodshop and photography studio.

Inaugurating the revamped museum is the exhibition “No Object is an Island: New Dialogues with the Cranbrook Collection” [Nov. 11, 2011–Mar. 25, 2012]. Co-curated by director Gregory Wittkopp and collections fellow Sarah Margolis-Pineo, the exhibition presents works from the museum’s permanent collection of 20th- and 21st-century art and design alongside that of 50 contemporary artists and designers, such as Nick Cave, Tony Matelli and Marilyn Minter.

The Cranbrook Academy of Art, which has been called the “American Bauhaus” for its impressive contributions to American modernism, was founded in 1932 by newspaper mogul George Gough Booth and designed by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, who also served as the school’s first president. Ten years later, Saarinen designed the museum, which initially served primarily as a gallery for student and faculty work, in collaboration with his son Eero, a Cranbook graduate. The selective graduate program, which only accepts 75 students each year, boasts an impressive roster of alumni and former teachers, including Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia, Florence Knoll and Ralph Rapson.