A Symbiotic Partnership

Marrying Commerce to Education at Gustav Stickley’s 1903 Arts & Crafts Exhibitions

Bruce A. Austin


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The 1903 Syracuse, New York, Arts and Crafts Exhibition is a signature event in the Movement’s history. But were it not for what else happened, the exhibition could be dismissed for what it was: Gustav Stickley’s self-serving, shameless shilling for his hometown United Crafts furniture enterprise. Following a twelve-day run in Stickley’s salesrooms, the exhibition moved ninety miles west to Mechanics Institute in Rochester. Stickley’s traveling exhibit predates by a decade what is usually acknowledged as the first art exhibition held at multiple venues, the New York Armory Show. A Symbiotic Partnership reveals the driver of the courtship that led to an unusual marriage between a commercial furniture manufacturer and a not-for-profit educational institution: a corner cupboard. This previously undocumented cupboard-server, purchased by Mechanics Institute from United Crafts in 1901, spurred a partnership for a co-sponsored exhibition pivotal in the Arts and Crafts Movement’s growth — transforming decorative arts and art education.

Hardcover, 76 pages

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Bruce A. Austin


Hardcover, 76 pages