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DOI

https://doi.org/10.7275/1s9j-cb16

Publication Date

2019

Abstract

In the first integrated-exhibition of its kind, our team of Chinese landscape architects and American scholars showcased the influence and impact of Frederick Law Olmsted’s work on the American landscape through a three-month Exhibition, a Symposium and Reference Book launch at Beijing’s National Museum of Chinese Gardens and Landscape Architecture. The Exhibition featured a meticulously curated collection of Olmsted’s most significant works, organized into six distinct thematic sections spread over 6500 square-feet. In tandem with the Exhibition was a Symposium that assembled leading Chinese landscape architects, government officials and scholars, and a 230-page Chinese-English Resource Book "Designing America's Landscape - Olmsted and His Works" to serve future generations of designers and scholars. This integrated-exhibition afforded a broad audience - students, professionals, government officials, and the general public - a multi-faceted and comprehensive understanding of Olmsted’s approach to design and how they can be consulted to inform the work of urban development in China. With a visitorship of 112,500, this groundbreaking exhibition aimed to germinate and advance the sustainable urban design movement in China.

The Olmsted exhibit in China was conceived, researched, and produced in partnership with the museum’s curatorial staff with technical assistance from institutions in both the U.S. and China, including the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic site, the US National Park Service, and the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. A lavish collection of historic photographs and newly collected educational materials illustrated Olmsted’s professional contribution and how heightening qualities within natural landscapes can protect dense urban areas from flooding, create public spaces that provide a safe and healthy respite, and foster a legacy of preserved natural and cultural landscapes. Furthermore, the exhibit showcased Olmsted’s vision and how the profession can improve the quality of life and create sustainable environments.

The Olmsted exhibit was held at the Museum of Chinese Gardens and Landscape Architecture, which receives approximately 450,000 visitors annually. This is the first and only national museum in the world that is primarily focused on landscape architecture. Since the exhibit concluded, portions of the exhibit, including scale models of Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace are now on permanent display in a prominent location at the entrance to the museum. The now-permanent inclusions ensure that Olmsted exhibit will continue to impact and influence contemporary Chinese landscape architecture.

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