Skridskoprinsessan at Cranbrook

Archives staff works very closely with the Capital Projects department here on campus and we recently received an email from Project Manager, Craig Hoernschemeyer, about a possible Cranbrook connection with a poster he came across. The poster is of Norwegian Olympic ice skating champion, Sonja Henie, who won the gold medal in 1928, 1932 and 1936 and was also a film star in the late 1930s-1940s. Craig wondered if perhaps Henie could have been sculptor Carl Milles’ muse for the “Ice Princess”.

Film poster featuring Sonja Henie. Skriskoprinsessan is the Norwegian word for Ice Princess.

Film poster featuring Sonja Henie. Skridskoprinsessan is the Swedish word for Ice Princess.

The first Ice Princess bronze was cast in 1949, making it a relatively late Milles sculpture. Stockholm’s Millesgarden attributes the design to a 1948 visit to Rockefeller Center in New York City. As the story goes, Milles was so fascinated with the skaters he saw at the Rockefeller ice rink, he designed the Ice Princess to match their fluidity and movement.

The Ice Princess in the Fisher Cummings Courtyard at the Girl's Middle School. Photographer, Hoernschemeyer.

The Ice Princess in the Fisher Cummings Courtyard at the Cranbrook Kingswood Girl’s Middle School. Photographer, Craig Hoernschemeyer.

There are more than 100 Milles sculptures across Cranbrook Educational Community’s campus. The Ice Princess was cast at the Herman Bergman AB foundry in 2012 and was installed in 2013 in the Fisher Cummings Courtyard at the Cranbrook Kingswood Girl’s Middle School.

Rockefeller Center? Sonja Henie? What do you think?

Gina Tecos, Archivist

 

 

Eat, Greek, and Be Merry: the Greek Theatre Turns 100!

Drama and arts and crafts have been intertwined in Detroit history for more than 100 years. Under the auspices of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts (DSAC), on January 19th 1910, May Morris (daughter of William Morris) captivated a capacity crowd at the Detroit Museum of Art with her illustrated lecture “Pageantry and the Mask.” Morris’s presentation helped mark a turning point in propelling Detroit onto the national stage as an arts and crafts center. Almost immediately after May Morris left Detroit, Alexandrine McEwen, a bookplate artist and founding member of the DSAC, penned what was termed a “modern immorality play” called Everywoman with characters named “Suffrage” and “Art.” Less than a month later, she wrote The Masque of Arcadia, another outdoor play held on the grounds of Clairview, J.L. Hudson’s Grosse Pointe estate. These performances led to the DSAC being the first to foster a little theatre as part of their program.

By 1914, George Booth (the first president of the DSAC) already had plans in mind for a bathing pavilion and a theatre on the hill overlooking Cranbrook House. (My own suspicion is that he did not like the fact that the DSAC performances were not held on HIS estate!) In early 1915, Booth commissioned Canadian architect Marcus Burrowes to draw up the plans for an outdoor Greek Theatre. The open-air amphitheater, constructed of stone, seats nearly 300 people and was described in contemporary news articles as a “gem of architecture” and a “temple of art.” By May 1916, landscaping was underway and red tulips graced the front of the bathing pavilion.

Invitation Card, The Cranbrook Masque, June 1916. George Gough Booth Papers.

Invitation Card, The Cranbrook Masque, June 1916. George Gough Booth Papers.

Meanwhile, the DSAC was planning the production of The Cranbrook Masque which would also serve as the public dedication for the new Greek Theatre. The play showed the development of drama from ancient to modern times in five episodes, emulating May Morris’s lecture theme from 1910. For more on the play, see an earlier blog post.

Greek Theater masque, 1916

The Cranbrook Masque at the Greek Theatre, 1916. Hand-tinted glass slide.

Fast forward to 1991 and the 75th anniversary of the Greek Theatre. A team of dedicated Cranbrook staff, historians, and theater enthusiasts initiated the restoration of the Greek Theatre and a contemporary production, using the script from the original Masque, this time with cast members from St. Dunstan’s Guild and dancers from Jessie Sinclair’s Cranbrook Kingswood Dancers.

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Cranbrook House sunken garden (originally called the kitchen garden) with staked tomato plants, ca 1915.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Greek Theatre and a long-standing tradition of theater programs at Cranbrook. In honor of this memorable event, the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research will be presenting “Edible Landscapes: A Midsummer Night’s Dinner.”

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

It’s a New Collection!

The Archives to Launch Our Poster Collection Online!

Over the coming summer, Cranbrook Archives will release a brand new collection into its online digital database! While building our digital archive is a perpetual process, we are working steadily to upload images and manuscripts so that you, our remote users, can browse and search through our collections no matter where you live. This summer we will be celebrating a new addition: the Cranbrook Poster Collection!

Over the past eight months, my colleague, Laura MacNewman, and I collaborated to upload this collection for online access. The posters date back to the early 1900s with topics covering the scope of the entire Cranbrook Educational Community, emphasizing exhibitions from the Academy of Art and the Institute of Science, and theatrical performances from Cranbrook Kingswood Schools, St. Dunstan’s Guild, and the Summer Theatre.

Cranbrook Institute of Science poster, n.d. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Cranbrook Institute of Science poster, n.d. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

We created nineteen different series for the Poster Collection based on locations or departments on campus. We identified nearly 500 unique posters in our collection, and each one was given a distinct identifying number. Once the unique identifiers were established, we merged all the various poster inventories  into one master inventory spreadsheet, and arranged them in chronological order by series.

The next step was sorting through the physical posters folder by folder in order to take a reference photograph of each one for the database, record their dimensions, and describe them  in the master inventory spreadsheet. This was the longest stage of the process, lasting several weeks. After the data was entered into the spreadsheet, we renamed the individual images to match the posters’ unique identifiers in order to match the photograph.

Exhibition poster, 1973. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Exhibition poster, 1973. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

While every step has been a learning process, my favorite part was working in Thornlea Studio and physically handling the poster collection for measurements and photographs. Laura and I were able to take a previously unorganized collection and make it discoverable online, which was rewarding and gave me a sense of accomplishment. I loved the huge diversity of the posters, too. Not only were they historically valuable, they were also aesthetically stunning. I can’t wait for the collection to be released for everyone to enjoy!

Danae Dracht, Archives Assistant

Editor’s Note: Thank you Danae and Laura for your hard work on this project! Congratulations also to Danae who recently graduated from Wayne State University’s School of Library Science! We wish you all the best as you embark on the next journey of your archival career.

Photo Friday: Teacher Appreciation Week

We appreciate all of our teachers at Cranbrook!

Cranbrook School Faculty, "Formal Portrait", May 1953.

Cranbrook School Faculty, “Formal Portrait,” May 1953. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Back row (l-r): John House, Hubert Davis, Rev. Walter Young, Arthur Palmer, Floyd Bunt, Wayne Lawrence. Kneeling (l-r): James Rollier, Carl Wonnberger, James Kelly, Robert Kenny, Carleton McClain, Ben Snyder

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