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A much-anticipated, travelling exhibition of The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design is set to open at the Huntsville Museum of Art on Sunday, March 19.

The American Chair Collection, the center of this exhibition, is an amazing and comprehensive private collection of iconic and historic chairs reaching back from the mid-1800s to pieces from today’s studio movement. Presented by PNC Bank and Davidson Technologies, the exhibition will be on view through June 18

There is much more to see than just simple pieces of furniture. The exhibition, The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design, began in 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Fla., and has since traveled to 19 venues. Forty-three chairs are included in the collection and they exemplify the majority of the important movements in American design in the last 200 years.

“The Huntsville Museum of Art is proud to present this special exhibit to the community,” said Christopher J. Madkour, Executive Director of HMA. “I encourage you to bring your family and friends to the Museum to view these interesting and historically impactful works while they are in our own backyard.”

The Art of Seating takes the viewer into the design studio through selections from the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D Foundation and offers a stylistic journey in furniture with showstoppers by John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, the Herter Brothers, the Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eams, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, Frank Gehry and others waiting to be discovered. Among the pieces in this exhibition are also contemporary and historic designs by some of the biggest manufacturers such as Knoll, Herman Miller and Steelcase.

The public is invited to attend The Collector’s Viewpoint, a preview party on March 18 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. that will include an opening presentation by the exhibits’ own Dr. Diane D. Jacobsen, followed by a reception catered by Chef Narvell. Seating for Saturday night is limited. Online tickets sales have ended, but you can still call 256-535-4350 to reserve your seat. Dr. Jacobsen, Chair of the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation, will present an overview of this stunning collection, exemplifying key movements in American furniture design over the past 200 years.

“Within its objects, one can trace the vibrant and progressive history of this country’s ingenuity and creativity. While all art is influenced by the design of previous generations and concurrent works in other countries, our collection’s encyclopedic survey of 200 years stresses the formation of a national character and shows the unique history of American decorative design,” Jacobsen said. “These treasured chairs tell the story over time of how American artists employed new materials and technologies to create unique sculptures having both innovative forms and functionality.

Since Huntsville has long been known as a center of exceptional engineering, technology, and creativity, I am especially delighted to be sharing the collection with this city and its neighboring communities. And, the Huntsville Museum of Art, known in its own right for being creative and forward thinking, is a particularly suitable venue.”

Bringing The Art of Seating to the Huntsville Museum of Art and to the Tennessee Valley region would not have been possible without sponsors. The lead sponsors for this exhibition are Davidson Technologies and PNC. Additional support is provided by Carolyn Wade, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, Alther Howard Design, Alabama Media Group and the Huntsville Museum of Art Guild.

“The Huntsville Museum of Art continues to provide access to a mix of high- quality arts programming and exhibits that engage audiences in new ways,” said Brian Bucher, PNC regional president for Alabama. “PNC’s continued collaboration with the Museum reflects our ongoing commitment to supporting Alabama’s economic growth through strategic investments in our thriving arts and culture scene.”

The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville in collaboration with the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.

For more information about The Art of Seating and to purchase tickets to the opening night presentation, call 256-535-4350.

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