External Events and Exhibitions: Archive

Sport and Leisure History Seminar: ‘Good Feeling and Brotherliness’: Leisure, the Suburbs and the Society of Public Librarians in London, 1895–1930 (January 2013)

Speaker: Dr Michelle Johansen (Bishopsgate Institute)

This paper describes the shared leisure experiences of the first generation of municipal public librarians in London, taking as its focus the chief and deputy librarians who met regularly as the Society of Public Librarians (1895-1930). Drawing upon the evidence of professional journals and records and Society letters, minutes and ephemera, the study reconstructs the spare time activities and interests of this cohort of suburban men.

It finds that here were outward-looking individuals enjoying variegated and fulfilling leisure lives. Their pursuit of knowledge and the cross-institutional relationships they fostered and sustained across more than three decades seemingly owed more to the mid-nineteenth century working-class cultures of self-help and mutual improvement than to the self-interested and socially insecure sensibilities conventionally ascribed to the residents of London’s rapidly-expanding suburbs; this was especially the case during the early part of the period under scrutiny.

Adopting the research methods of the genealogist it becomes possible to account for this apparent anachronism, at the same time beneficially complicating our understanding of the changing nature of leisure practices in the metropolitan suburbs from the 1890s to the inter-war period.

Dr Johansen is the Schools and Community Learning Officer at the Bishopsgate Institute. She undertook her doctoral thesis on the topic of ‘The Public Librarian in Modern London: The Case of Charles Goss at the Bishopsgate Institute’ and has had articles published in Library History

Centre for Studies of Home: Seminar Series at the Institute of Historical Research (December 2012)

Seminar by Network member Dr Deborah Sugg Ryan, Senior Lecturer in Histories & Theories of Design at University College Falmouth. Her talk is entitled ‘The Inter-war Home: The Design and Decoration of the Suburban House in England’ and takes places at the Queen Mary, University of London Senate House on Wednesday 5 December 2012. Full details at http://historiesofhomessn.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/seminar-programme-2012-13-final1.pdf

‘Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream’

Museum of Modern Art, NY, Architecture and Design Galleries. 15 February – 13 August 2012.


Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream is an exploration of new architectural possibilities for cities and suburbs in the aftermath of the recent foreclosure crisis. During summer 2011, five interdisciplinary teams of architects, urban planners, ecologists, engineers, and landscape designers worked in public workshops at MoMA PS1 to envision new housing and transportation infrastructures that could catalyze urban transformation, particularly in the country’s suburbs. Responding to The Buell Hypothesis, a research report prepared by the Buell Center at Columbia University, teams—lead by MOS, Visible Weather, Studio Gang, WORKac, and Zago Architecture—focused on a specific location within one of five “megaregions” across the country to come up with inventive solutions for the future of American suburbs. This installation presents the proposals developed during the architects-in-residence program, including a wide array of models, renderings, animations, and analytical materials.

Read ‘Sympathy for the Suburbs’, a response to the MOMA exhibition by Diana Lind, at http://americancity.org/daily/entry/sympathy-for-the-suburbs

Read ‘Reassembling the American Dream’, an extended critical review of the exhibition by Alexandra Lange, at http://observatory.designobserver.com/feature/reassembling-the-american-dream/32888/

‘After the Suburbs’ a group show curated by Karen Tauches

Kiang Gallery, Atlanta  (January 2011)


“Unsustainable and overbuilt, we have witnessed the suburbs grow more complex and out of control. After an explosion of cookie-cutter development in the 20th century, it is time to reimagine their future as both urban and green spaces.”

Read ‘After the Suburbs waves goodbye to the glory days’, a response to the exhibition by Cinque Hicks at http://clatl.com/atlanta/after-the-suburbs-waves-goodbye-to-the-glory-days/Content?oid=2797820