Harold Eugene Edgerton, Papa Flash

The topic of Cranbrook visitors has been a regular one in the Archives this winter as my colleague, Kevin Adkisson, prepares for his History of American Architecture: Cranbrook Visitors lectures. There have been many famous visitors to Cranbrook over the years, and while Kevin is focused on architects who came to the Academy of Art, many other interesting guests were associated with the Institute of Science.

The Institute has frequently welcomed scholars from near and far to present on the latest research in their field. These include paleoanthropologists, Mary and Louis S. B. Leakey; primatologist, Dian Fossey; archaeologist, J. Eric S. Thompson; father of ecology, Pierre Dansereau; biologist, Joseph S. Weiner, and professor of electrical engineering, Harold Eugene “Doc” Edgerton. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the work of Dr. Edgerton, dubbed “Papa Flash” by Jacques Cousteau.

Poster for Harold E. Edgerton’s 1979 lecture Moments of Vision: An Inventor Speaks (P.19.011). Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

Edgerton, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, presented his lecture Seeing the Unseen at the Institute in 1950, and returned in 1979 to present Moments of Vision: an Inventor Speaks. His work was also included in an exhibition, Flash! The Invisible World Revealed in 1960. The Newsletter – Cranbrook Institute of Science of October 1979 reports that Edgerton invented the stroboscope, which made stop-action and high-speed photography possible.

The December 1960 CIS newsletter tells us that, “’stroboscope’ literally means ’whirling viewer’ and employs very rapid flashes from a strobostron, a gas-filled tube, in which light can be produced repeatedly by electrical discharges from condensers. A camera synchronized with the light can make photographs at speeds of less than one millionth of a second, stopping action which is much too fast for the human eye to see.”

Edgerton’s system of photography, first introduced in 1931, has revolutionized the way we see the world–and the way we see the moon! Edgerton adapted his invention to specialized instruments in many fields, including underwater photography, aerial reconnaissance, and nuclear-test measurement.

The Newsletter – Cranbrook Institute of Science, Vol. 49, No. 2. October 1979. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

The stroboscope helped enable underwater photography, allowing us to see this otherwise unseen world. The CIS newsletter describes how “aquanauts” used his equipment to resolve underwater mysteries, such as finding the iron-clad Civil War vessel, Monitor, which was discovered off the North Carolina coast near Cape Hatteras, as well as searching for the Loch Ness monster. Edgerton also made ten voyages with Jacques Cousteau on the Calypso, and the 1960 newsletter reports that he had previously been on four deep sea explorations with Cousteau, capturing images of sea life as deep as four miles.

Edgerton’s association with the MIT began in 1926, when he entered as a graduate student, being awarded a Master of Science degree in 1927 and a Doctor of Science degree in 1931. He was appointed Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1934 and continued beyond his official retirement in 1977. His first public association with Cranbrook came in the December 1949 CIS newsletter, where his camera equipment’s ability to create photographic records of hummingbirds and bats in flight, circus performers in mid-air, and stroboscopic analysis of tennis and golf players was documented. Many of these images were displayed at the December 1960 photographic exhibition, which featured thirty years of Edgerton’s work, and included enlargements from his original negatives of ultra high-speed photography of the splash of a milk drop.

Cranbrook’s institutions have long played host to national and international leaders in science, the arts, and many other fields. It is wonderful that Edgerton shared the progress of his fascinating research and discoveries with the Institute of Science.

—Laura MacNewman, Associate Archivist, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

The Newsletter, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Vol. 19, No. 4, December 1949.
The Newsletter, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Vol. 30, No. 4, December 1960.
The Newsletter, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Vol. 49, No. 2, October 1979.

Online Exhibition: Saarinen House: Presidents/Residents, 1946-1994

This week, we’re proud to announce that the Center is launching its first online exhibition! With the tireless efforts of the Center’s Administrative Assistant and resident website guru, Alissa Seelmann-Rutkofske, we have adapted my 2018 exhibition Saarinen House: Presidents/Residents, 1946-1994 for the web.


Installation view of Saarinen House: Presidents/Residents, 1946-1994. You can learn much more about the content of the show in the new online exhibition, or learn about the display system here. July 2018, Meng Li, photographer.

The show, which was on display in Saarinen House from April to November 2018, focuses on the first five Presidents of Cranbrook Academy of Art. These were the only five leaders to live in Saarinen House (built to be the President’s residence) and the only five who held the title “President” (we now have Directors of the Academy and a President of Cranbrook Educational Community).

In the online exhibition, you will learn about President Eliel Saarinen and the four subsequent presidents: Zoltan Sepeshy, Glen Paulsen, Wallace Mitchell, and Roy Slade. Each man’s page features a short biography, history of their artistic practice, and an account of the Academy under their leadership. Their tenure is documented through photographs from Cranbrook Archives, showing the presidents and their era of the Academy (including publications, Museum exhibitions, protests, parties, and other examples of student life and strife).

You’ll also find an Exhibition Checklist of the paintings and drawings from each president that were included in the show; click on the title of each work to see a larger image. Also online are photographs of the Exhibition Installation and information about the design and construction of our custom-made displays.

Exhibitions are a lot of research and work, and once they’re deinstalled it can feel like all the effort was for naught. Using the show’s text and images, documentary photography from P.D. Rearick, and with the encouragement of the Center’s Director, Greg Wittkopp, I am happy that Presidents/Residents and the efforts that went into its physical production will live on in digital form. Please go take a click around, and let me know what you think.

Kevin with the Drill

“My work here is done!” The curator in a moment of repose during the installation of Presidents/Residents. Seen sitting in a Platner chair that belonged to Roy Slade, and is currently back in use at the Academy administration offices, but was used in Saarinen House from 1977 to around 1990 and again during the exhibition. April 2018, Ashley Bigham, photographer.

Look for digital documentation of our other past exhibitions soon, and don’t miss your last chance to see this year’s show (in person): Studio Loja Saarinen: The Art and Architecture of Weaving, 1928-1942, on view with all Saarinen House tours through Thanksgiving weekend.

Kevin Adkisson, Curatorial Associate

By the Numbers: Cranbrook Center 2016

As this year comes to a close, the Center for Collections and Research has done some number crunching on 2016. Below, you’ll find information on visitors and events supported by the Center throughout the year. While we’re proud of our overall growth as a division of the Cranbrook Educational Community, we like to keep in mind that each number counted represents an individual person who’s had the opportunity to explore Cranbrook’s architecture or collections in depth and hopefully engage in meaningful ways with our history and legacy.

It’s been a fantastic year for the Center, and we’re excited about what’s on the drawing board for 2017. We hope to see you at future events (make sure you’re on our email list by contacting us) and hope you and yours have a very Happy New Year!


›› Responded to 803 unique requests from national and international users, including 439 email and 42 phone inquiries, 181 researchers in the Reading Room, and 141 group visitors
›› Responded to 578 unique requests from Cranbrook faculty and staff


Friends of the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives tour Cranbrook Archives, Sept. 2016


›› Offered 103 public Saarinen House Tours (in collaboration with Cranbrook Art Museum) to 584 visitors (April through October 2016) and provided 27 private tours for 124 visitors
›› Gave 48 public tours (20 sold out) to 387 visitors (April through October 2016) and provided 12 private tours for 132 visitors to the Frank Lloyd Wright Smith House (in collaboration with the Towbes Foundation)
›› Crafted custom campus tours for 392 visitors (April through October 2016)
›› Welcomed national and international conference attendees with groups sponsored by LaFargeHolcim Company, Switzerland; A4LE; the Congress for New Urbanism; and DoCoMoMo-US Day Away Tours
›› Led two sold-out Pewabic Pottery focused tours to Detroit (May and June
›› Led an Albert Kahn-themed tour to the University of Michigan (October 2016)
›› Engaged 195 guests Pewabic Pottery Walking Tours of the Cranbrook Campus

pewabic tour.JPG

Pewabic Pottery Walking Tour preparing to enter Saarinen House, Aug. 2016


›› Presented Designs of the Times: 100 Years of Posters at Cranbrook (December 2015 through March 2016)
›› Organized Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes: The Gerald W. McNeely Collection of Pewabic Pottery in collaboration with Cranbrook Art Museum (December 2015 through August 2016)
›› Engaged 192 people at the opening and 18,827 people during the run of the Pewabic exhibition


Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes in the lower level of the Cranbrook Art Museum, Dec.-Aug. 2016

Lectures & Events

›› Two historians and two artists, including Roberto Lugo from Vermont, spoke about the legacy of Pewabic Pottery to 65 people (February 2016)
›› Kendall Brown spoke about Japanese style gardens in America to 186 people (April 2016)
›› Crafted an “Edible Landscape” dinner for 63 guests with Gold Cash Gold that celebrated the centennial of the first performance in Cranbrook’s Greek Theatre (June 2016)
›› Premiered PBS’ newest American Master’s film Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future to 219 guests in deSalle Auditorium
›› 11 experts presented the Preserving Michigan Modern lecture series, in collaboration with the State Historic Preservation Office, to a total of 375 people (October and November 2016)
›› Celebrated the North American launch of the book Millesgården: The Home and Art of Carl Milles with a violin and piano concert of works by Beethoven, attracting 60 guests on a very snowy Sunday (December 2016)


The red carpet and searchlights for the film premiere of Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future, Sept. 2016

-Jody Helme-Day, Administrative Assistant and Kevin Adkisson, Center Collections Fellow

A Rugged Individualist: Luella Schroeder

One of the best things about being an archivist here is learning about the amazing people connected to Cranbrook’s history. Part II of our posts for Women’s History month focuses on Luella C. Schroeder (1918-2004). In 1946, Schroeder was hired as an Assistant Preparator at Cranbrook Institute of Science. A woman of many talents, she worked at a book binding studio in Delaware and as a draftsman during World War II for Chrysler before taking the position at CIS.

Schroeder’s college studies were divided between the natural sciences and art. She later studied photography – a skill she relied on heavily at CIS – as the photographer of the Institute’s collections and exhibitions. A member of the Photographic Guild of Detroit, she was one of 100 photographers to be awarded a prize in Popular Photography magazine’s 1957 photo contest.


Schroeder preparing an exhibition, 1956. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

In addition to her photography work, Schroeder created dioramas and models for exhibits and taught lapidary classes. Her love of nature was evident in her creations for the Institute – from plant life to insects to bee hives. In 1954, she built an elaborate hive illustrating the lifecycle and production cycle of bees. Her work was admired and praised by her colleagues and visitors alike.


Bee Hive exhibition, 1954. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

After working at CIS for 12 years, Schroeder left her position in 1958 to pursue her hobby of silver jewelry making. She fell in love with Vermont, and moved there to devote herself to her craft. In a 1961, Times-Argus article she was quoted, “I wish I could tell you why I love Vermont, maybe it’s because it is the last stand of the rugged individualists – the one place where people still really make their lives for themselves.”

Schroeder’s hobby became her life-work. She credited the Institute in making her jewelry more creative (due to her ability to cut gems which she learned while at CIS). Her work was on display at several museums nationally and abroad, and was exhibited at the 1964 World’s Fair. In 1965 she created a pin she titled, “Forged Sunburst.” America House re-named the pin “Solar Flair” in an advertisement in New Yorker magazine and Schroeder was deluged with orders.


Burlington Free Press, 13 May 1965. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Several pieces of Schroeder’s work were selected by the American House retail store in New York, which is sponsored by the American Craftsman Council. Her jewelry was also marketed by the Detroit Artist’s Market and the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts. In 1985, the Vermont Handcrafters bestowed a Lifetime Membership to Schroeder for her dedication to Vermont Crafts. Clearly her work and dedication made an impression on many – including the Cranbrook community.

Gina Tecos, Archivist


Princess Di’s Dresses in the Archives?

At Cranbrook Archives, much of the work we do—processing manuscripts, arranging documents, scanning photographs—all have a rather similar procedure: repeat.

There is plenty of magnificence to be found in the mundane though. We don’t mind the monotonous details because it’s this repetitive process that wins us the occasional gem. Today, while going through Cranbrook’s historic exhibition brochures printed between the 1940s and 1990s, I came across an image of Princess Diana.

“Five Dresses from the Collection of Diana, Princess of Wales” was an exhibition held at the Cranbrook Art Museum from March 10-15, 1998. The royal dresses were premiered at Cranbrook before becoming part of a worldwide tour that traveled to Russia, Japan, Australia, and England through 1999. This selection from the Princess’s wardrobe was shown in conjunction with the “Art on the Edge of Fashion” exhibition held at Cranbrook at the same time.


Cranbrook Art Museum exhibition brochure, 1988. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

The five dresses were from the private collection of Ellen Louise Petho, a commercial interior designer who, incidentally, was the parent of a Kingswood School alumna. Susan Whitall’s press release in the Detroit News explained how the princess sold dozens of her dresses to benefit AIDs charities just months before her death in 1997. She wrote, “Petho scooped up the five frocks for what became, after Diana’s death, a bargain basement price—less than $100,000.”

The collection included a pleated pink silk tunic dinner dress that Diana wore at the Gala Evening for the English National Ballet and the long jade and black evening dress worn to a dinner at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto in 1986. Four of the five dresses were designed by Catherine Walker and the “piece de resistance,” designed by Bruce Oldfield, was the red dress the princess wore at the premiere of the motion picture “Hot Shots” in 1991.

The Archives are a trove of Cranbrook history. We love rediscovering the hidden materials—it’s what makes the repetition meaningful.

Danae Dracht, Archives Assistant

The Golden Anniversary of Horizons-Upward Bound at Cranbrook

The Archives new exhibition, “50 Years Strong: The Evolution of HUB at Cranbrook,” opens this Saturday, April 25th, in the lower level of Cranbrook Art Museum. Horizons-Upward Bound, known as HUB, has its roots in a partnership with Cranbrook Schools that began in 1965. Over the past fifty years, HUB has evolved into a year-round program which prepares both boys and girls with limited financial opportunities to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

HUB Theme Day, 1971

Horizons-Upward Bound Theme Day, 1971. Photographer, Jack Kausch. Cranbrook Archives.

The exhibition sheds light on the history of the program and its continued affiliation with Cranbrook Schools and highlights key individuals and events that have helped make it the successful legacy it is today. Through news clippings, program invitations, brochures and newsletters, student publications, and historic photographs, the exhibition presents a chronological history of the multi-faceted academic enrichment program known as HUB.

News Clipping, 1966.

News clipping, The Birmingham Eccentric, 1966. Cranbrook Archives.

Photo Friday: Pleasures of Life

Close-up of page 104 of Pleasures of Life, Volume 2. Cranbrook Archives.

Close-up of page 104 of Pleasures of Life, volume 2. Cranbrook Archives.

For this week’s Photo Friday, we’re showcasing an image from Henry Scripps Booth’s epic photographic undertaking, Pleasures of Life. A series of photographic albums documenting his life from 1911 to 1940, Pleasures of Life follows Booth through experiences at Cranbrook, boarding school in Asheville, NC, and travels domestic and international.

This photograph, found on page 104of Pleasures of Life, volume 2, features a “Mrs. Scranton and Mrs. Brixton” dressed in angels’ wings and halos and labeled “Cranbrook’s guardian angels.” Taken during a nativity theatrical performance at Cranbrook’s Greek Theatre in 1916, the photo provides visual documentation for what are likely the same wings as those that appear in the Center’s newest exhibition,Cranbrook Goes to the Movies: Films and Their Objects, 1925-1975, now open at Cranbrook Art Museum.

Wings, circa 1916, featured in the exhibition Cranbrook Goes to the Movies.

Wings, circa 1916, featured in the exhibition Cranbrook Goes to the Movies.

Evening Post: Summer Exhibitions Are Almost Here!

Posting on a Thursday night is a rare activity for this blog, but it’s worth staying late in the office to help install the upcoming shows. Cranbrook Art Museum will kick off its summer exhibition season this Saturday with six all new exhibitions. Two of those are Center for Collections and Research projects, and we are so excited to show them off!

Two selections of ephemera from the exhibition highlight the variety of documents that fall under this important archival category. Cranbrook Archives.

We’ve already highlighted one exhibition on the blog, but it is worth mentioning again. Officially opened on April 22, Cranbrook Archives’ Ephemera: Fragments from Cranbrook’s Social Life went into hibernation with the rest of the museum during the changeover from the Academy of Art Graduate Degree Show in May. Re-opening along with the rest of the galleries, it presents an exciting opportunity to explore Cranbrook’s diverse history through the campus’ ephemera – the paper material (fliers, invitations, notices, tickets, etc.) that populate our daily life yet are so often discarded rather than saved. Called “the transient evidence of everyday life,” ephemera collections are ripe for exploration, which is what the Archives will be doing as it launches this first show in a series of exhibitions that mine the Archives’ rich collection of ephemera.

Films and objects come together in Cranbrook Goes to the Movies. Left: Tea urn and tray, Eliel Saarinen, 1934 (or earlier). Right: Still from Cranbrook Academy of Art Experimental Films, circa 1941. Cranbrook Art Museum/Cranbrook Archives.

The second Center exhibition opening at Cranbrook Art Museum on Saturday, June 21 features an under-explored medium in Cranbrook’s history: film. Cranbrook Goes to the Movies: Films and Their Objects, 1925-1975 takes Cranbrook Archives’ incredible collection of historic film as its jumping off point, using footage from multiple time periods and many distinct parts of Cranbrook’s community to provide a fresh look into the past. Incorporating objects that appear in films and remain within Cranbrook’s various collections, the show reunites the ephemeral with the physical to activate the historic film and provide context to objects that are still considered some of Cranbrook’s greatest treasures.

On loan to the exhibition from Cranbrook Institute of Science, this stuffed duck finds many of his friends in a 1960s film that details the attractions of the early Institute.  Shoshana Resnikoff/Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

On loan to the exhibition from Cranbrook Institute of Science, this stuffed duck finds many of his friends in a 1960s film that details the attractions of the early Institute. Shoshana Resnikoff/Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

We can’t show you the completed gallery, but enjoy this sneak peek into the installation. And be sure to visit Cranbrook Art Museum on opening weekend! Besides these two shows, CAM will be opening four other exhibitions that are sure to impress – Paul Evans: Crossing Boundaries and Crafting Modernism, Warhol on Vinyl: The Record Covers, 1949-1987+, Modern/Moderna:Amie Siegel and Terence Gower, and Culture Breakers: The Living Structures of Ken Isaacs. Also exciting is Sunday’s PNC Family Fun Celebration day, featuring live music, silk screening activities, and tours of the exhibitions!

Alright, enough blogging – back to putting the finishing touches on our shows!


Dinosaurs and Doodles

Google Doodle honoring Mary Anning's 215th birthday. Google.com.

Google Doodle honoring Mary Anning’s 215th birthday. Google.com.

If you find yourself on Google’s homepage today, you will likely run into a Google Doodle featuring a little-known 19th century Englishwoman named Mary Anning. Born in 1799, Anning was barred by her gender and social class from access to Britain’s community of leading scientists and palaeontologists, yet nonetheless she slowly became known in scientific circles throughout Europe and the United States. Anning’s discoveries include the first icthyosaur to come to scientific attention in England, as well as a partial skeleton of an unknown marine reptile that would later earn the title of plesiosaurus. The Google Doodle celebrates her 215th birthday and helps to give Anning the credit and attention that she so richly deserves, even centuries after her death.

There aren’t many connections between a 19th century female English palaeontologist and Cranbrook, but the timing of her 215th birthday is an ideal opportunity to mention Cranbrook Institute of Science’s current special exhibition Dinosaurs – The Lost World. Featuring more than fifty full-scale dinosaur skeletons and skeleton casts, Dinosaurs tells a story of prehistoric life that would not have been possible without the contributions of early amateur palaeontologists like Mary Anning. The exhibition closes on June 29, so be sure to visit and get a glimpse into the world that Mary and her colleagues discovered!


Photo Friday: Art by Degrees

Young women take in the Annual Exhibition of Student Work at the Cranbrook Art Museum. The central painting is Untitled (1957) by student Frank Okada. June 1957. Harvey Croze/Cranbrook Archives.

Visitors take in the Annual Exhibition of Student Work at Cranbrook Art Museum. The central painting is Untitled (1957) by student Frank Okada. June 1957. Harvey Croze/Cranbrook Archives.

It’s that time of year again—the Graduate Degree Exhibition is up and running at Cranbrook Art Museum! Staged in some form or another since 1940, the Graduate Degree Exhibition is a celebration of work produced by Cranbrook’s graduating class of MFA students. This photograph from 1957’s Annual Exhibition of Student Work (an earlier name for the Graduate Degree Exhibition) shows a painting by Academy of Art graduate Frank Okada that might be familiar to eagle-eyed museum visitors—it was featured in the 2013 exhibition What to Paint and Why: Modern Painters at Cranbrook, 1936-1974.

For more information about the 2014 Graduate Degree Exhibition, check out Cranbrook Art Museum’s website. And be sure to check out the show while you still can—it closes May 11!

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