Brigham, Metcalf, and Osler

Three architects, three exhibitions, one success

A trio of recent exhibits at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) has brought heightened attention to the Bentley’s modern architectural archives. Architects George Brigham, Robert Metcalf, and David Osler are household names to homeowners in Ann Arbor who prize mid-century modernism. The architects’ archives at the Bentley mirror their buildings: the original drawings, photographs, and correspondence illustrate both imagination and fine construction.

A recent “Three Michigan Architects” exhibit at UMMA, co-curated by UMMA Director Joseph Rosa, showcased holdings from the Bentley’s archives and concluded this past October with a symposium that brought together faculty from U-M’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, with leading figures from UMMA as well as Bentley Associate Director Nancy Bartlett.

Bartlett gave the keynote address at the symposium panel examining the role archives play in architectural preservation. “Without the past, we can’t protect the present,” she says. “These three architects have had such an impact on design locally and beyond. It’s incredible to be able to sift through all their materials at the Bentley and see how they moved from concept to reality.”