Tours and Programs

APRIL

Lectures

Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research lectures are held at Cranbrook Art Museum, deSalle Auditorium. Purchase tickets at the door. $10 for Adults and Seniors; Free for Students with ID.

Watch and Work
Louis Benech, Landscape Designer
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 • 6:30pm

One hundred and eleven years after George and Ellen Booth first began to shape and plant the landscape that they named Cranbrook, the Community is updating the Master Plan, one that will lead us into the next century of stewardship and renewal of our natural environment and the remarkable buildings that house our programs. Join the Center as we learn about the creative solutions brought to similar challenges by the renowned French landscape designer, Louis Benech. Benech has carried out some 300 park and garden projects around the world including work at the Tuileries, the Elysée Gardens, and the Quai d’Orsay, as well as Pavlovsk’s Rose Pavilion in St. Petersburg and the Gardens of the Achilleion in Corfu. He also has worked for organizations such as Hermès, Axa, and Suez. With each of his projects, Benech combines a desire to create long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing gardens with respect for a site’s history and ecosystem, while also considering its future upkeep. At the heart of his work is one simple idea — a garden is an artificial construction with elements of nature that has to bring pleasure to those who experience it. A recipient of the Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur and Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Benech is now working at the Palace of Versailles on a contemporary garden for the Water Theatre Grove. Louis Benech’s lecture at Cranbrook is presented in partnership with the Penny Stamps Speaker Series, Stamps School of Art and Design, University of Michigan.

Caption/Credit: © Eric Sander, Jardin

The Many Faces of Architect Albert Kahn
Eric Hill, Architect and Architectural Historian
Sunday, April 19, 2015 • 4pm

Struggling son of German immigrants, self-educated student of architecture, pioneering entrepreneur and prolific source of modernism, steely businessman, generous civic leader, and prominent architect of the Arsenal of Democracy, Albert Kahn was a Renaissance man of many facets. Comparably broad in scope and design expression, Kahn’s architecture transformed the face of Detroit over nearly a half century of phenomenal productivity. From American Arts and Crafts authenticity to Neoclassical sophistication, and from Art Deco finesse to industrial strength Modernism, the common denominator in Kahn’s portfolio was a search for design quality and appropriateness. This talk will survey the breadth of Albert Kahn’s legacy to Detroit, America, and indeed the world. It is a fascinating story –one in which James Scripps and Cranbrook founders George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth played no small role.

Eric J. Hill, PhD, FAIA, is a professor of architecture at the University of Michigan and practicing architect based in Bloomfield Hills. Previously, as a principal with Albert Kahn Associates, he oversaw the preservation and renewal of many of Albert Kahn’s important works built in the Detroit area between 1903 and 1942. Hill is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and is co-author of The AIA Guide to Detroit Architecture.

Caption/Credit: Courtesy Edsel and Eleanor Ford House.
Caption/Credit: Courtesy of Eric Hill. 

Events

MAY

Exploring Albert Kahn's Detroit SOLD OUT!
(A Hard Hat and Sport Coat Bus Tour)
Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research presents its fifth “Day Away,” a program that explores Cranbrook connections off campus. Join the Center as we travel into Detroit, exploring commercial buildings, private homes, and a factory designed by famed architect Albert Kahn. Our guides for the day will be Gregory Wittkopp, Director of the Center and Cranbrook Art Museum; Michael Hodges, fine arts writer for the Detroit News and (because there’s always a Cranbrook connection) 1972 Cranbrook Schools graduate; and Stefanie Dlugosz-Acton, the Center’s Collections Fellow. The day will begin at Cranbrook House, the 1908/1919 home of our founders George and Ellen Scripps Booth. Even Cranbrook history buffs will discover a few new details as we take a brief tour of the Arts and Crafts style architecture. We then will board our motor coach (and yes, it will have a restroom) and travel south on Woodward Avenue towards Detroit stopping to tour the Administration Building of Henry Ford’s Highland Park Plant (1909-1920). The Administration Building, which has been acquired by the Woodward Avenue Action Association for transformation into an automobile museum, is at the beginning stages of a multi-year restoration and not yet open to the public. This special tour, conducted by WAAA’s Executive Director Deborah Schutt literally will require that we all wear hard hats (not to mention sensible shoes). But at the end of it, you will have bragging rights with Detroit’s architecture and design buffs. From industry to skyscraper, our final morning stop will be a brief stop at the 1928 Fisher Building in the heart of downtown Detroit, paying special attention to a few of its many Cranbrook connections, including the mosaic murals by Geza Marotti. As we know that good food (no, great food!) is an important part of these tours, we will have lunch at Selden Standard, the Detroit Free Press’s 2015 Restaurant of the Year designed by (yes, get ready for another Cranbrook connection) 2008 Academy architecture alum Tad Heidgerken. This allinclusive tour even includes a glass of wine or a craft beer to help you relax after the hard hat factory tour. Following lunch we will travel to the Detroit Athletic Club for a tour and experience of Kahn’s six-story Clubhouse. As this remarkable building is only open to club members, our guide will be DAC member and painting conservator Kenneth Katz assisted by Booth Family member John Lord Booth II (his grandfather is Ralph Harmon Booth, George Booth’s brother). Instead of a hard hat, everyone (no exceptions) will be required to adhere to the Club’s dress code which is Professional Business Attire and includes sport coats for men. Our next stop will take us to Belle Isle (now a Michigan State Park) to tour the Aquarium, one of the first of its kind in the United States, and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, two of Kahn’s earlier designs from 1904. (And yes, Anna Scripps Whitcomb was Ellen Scripps Booth’s sister.) Our final stop before our return to Cranbrook will take us inside the 1927 Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe where our host will be the estate’s Executive Director, Kathleen Mullins. Exhausted yet? Rumor has it we will be allowed to relax in the Ford House at the end of our tour with a glass of wine—with or without a sport coat. Our guides will make sure that even the time we spend on the bus will be an educational experience, as we will be discussing many more Kahn buildings that we will pass as Detroit and the surrounding metro are filled to the brim with Kahn designs. The cost of this all-inclusive guided tour is $85 per person. Guests should arrive at Cranbrook House for registration and coffee starting at 8:45am. The tour and program will start promptly at 9:15am. The bus will return to Cranbrook by 5:45pm. To purchase your seat and pay by credit card, please call Kim Larsen at 248-645-3319 (weekdays). But don’t delay—all of the past Day Away programs have sold out, often within a couple of weeks of their announcement. And remember, wear sensible shoes, be prepared to don a hard hat in Highland Park, and men will be required to wear a sport coat (did we mention no exceptions?) while in the Detroit Athletic Club.

Caption/Credit: Interior of Belle Isle Aquarium. Courtesy of Belle Isle Conservancy and Belle Isle Aquarium
Caption/Credit: Highland Park plant photo courtesy of the Woodward Avenue Action Association.

June

Center Concert and Benefit
Leonard Bernstein and Friends
James Tocco, Pianist • Sunday, June 7, 2015

The ivories of the Cranbrook House Steinway & Sons concert grand piano have been tickled by many legendary pianists, including the American composer Leonard Bernstein. Join the Center and the Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary as we celebrate the Auxiliary’s recent restoration of the piano—a year-long, $40,000 project—with a concert by the equally legendary pianist James Tocco. The concert will include an excerpt from Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety, which Bernstein remembered he was composing on the Steinway while in residence at Cranbrook in the spring of 1946. The program, which also includes compositions by Bernstein’s friends and contemporaries such as George Gershwin and Aaron Copland, will be introduced with remarks about the piano and its restoration by Center Director Gregory Wittkopp and remarks about Bernstein and his compositions by Tocco. A Detroit native, James Tocco is Founding Artistic Director of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Eminent Scholar/Artist-in-Residence at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, and former Professor of Piano at the Musikhochschule in Lübeck, Germany. Among Tocco’s most treasured experiences is the day he met with Leonard Bernstein at Bernstein’s home in Fairfield, Connecticut, where they played a “four-hand” piano arrangement of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring .All proceeds from this concert will be used by the Center and the Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary to conserve and restore the Cultural Properties on display in Cranbrook House.

A History of the Cranbrook House Steinway Piano (and its Most Famous Pianist, Leonard Bernstein) The Cranbrook House Steinway Model D concert grand piano was manufactured by Steinway & Sons of New York City on December 18, 1929. In February 1935, after a short life at the Colony Town Club, George Booth purchased the piano from Grinnell Brothers of Detroit for use by Cranbrook Academy of Art. The piano was placed in the main hall of the Cranbrook Pavilion (now St. Dunstan’s Playhouse) in the winter of 1935 and was used at Academy of Art events including lectures by architects Ely Jacques Kahn and Frank Lloyd Wright, and during the Contemporary American Painting exhibition. Although St. Dunstan’s Guild began using the Pavilion in 1937 for rehearsals and storage, Cranbrook Academy of Art continued to hold exhibitions there until the new Art Museum building was completed in 1942. During the early 1940s, George Booth had the Steinway moved to Christ Church Cranbrook “to protect the instrument from damage by dampness or other causes and to give it the benefit of expert use.” In March 1944, George and Ellen Booth deeded to the Cranbrook Foundation the Homestead Property, which encompassed not only Cranbrook House but also the Greek Theatre and the Pavilion and all of its contents, including the Steinway.

Enter Leonard Bernstein. In the spring of 1946, Bernstein traveled to Detroit for two concerts: one in March and one in April. During this time, Zoltan Sepeshy (who had met Bernstein previously in New York) invited the pianist to visit Cranbrook for a three-week respite before he traveled to Europe. Bernstein took him up on the offer and after playing a concert broadcast for Sam’s Cut-Rate Department Store in Detroit on April 7th, he traveled to Cranbook and stayed at the Academy of Art. (Not surprisingly, Bernstein later commented on the Academy’s “spartan” guest accommodations!) The Sepeshys had the piano moved from Christ Church back to the Pavilion and, according to Zoltan’s wife Dorothy, Bernstein was given a key to the Pavilion and the privacy he needed to compose during his stay. At the end of the day, Bernstein often had drinks and dinner with the Sepeshys, and enjoyed walking the grounds.

Forty years later, Bernstein returned to Cranbrook in August 1986 to discuss the formation of a composarium with Henry Scripps Booth and Cranbrook President Dr. Lillian Bauder. The composarium, which would have established a program for musicians and composers to live and work on campus, was a long-standing idea that Henry Booth had to provide a life for his own residence, Thornlea House, after his death. It was during this visit that the sixty-eight-year-old Bernstein not only recalled his 1946 visit to Cranbrook, remembering that he already was working on his 1949 Symphony No. 2 (The Age of Anxiety), but also a second visit to Cranbrook in 1957 when he remembered working on West Side Story, which premiered in August of that same year While it is hard to refute the personal memories of the composer, according to the Bernstein day books at the Library of Congress, it is not feasible that he traveled to Michigan in 1957. For the two years prior to the opening of West Side Story, Bernstein worked non-stop on the production, with almost daily meetings in New York. As for his 1946 visit and the Symphony No. 2, Library of Congress Senior Music Specialist Mark Horowitz believes it is more likely that the piece Bernstein was working on at Cranbrook was Facsimile –Choreographic Essay for Orchestra, which premiered in October of 1946. Symphony No. 2, Facsimile, or West Side Story, while we may never know the truth, it is all part of a fascinating history of Cranbrook’s lovingly restored piano.

Concert in the Library at Cranbrook House at 4pm; Reception (with Hors d’oeuvres and a Cash Bar) to Meet James Tocco follows.

$75 Adults, Seniors, and Students
(Tickets include a $40 Tax-deductible Donation)

Pre-paid reservations may be made on-line on the House & Gardens website or by calling 248-645-3149

Caption/Credit: Steinway Piano in Cranbrook House Library, 1957. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.