Olmsted: Bicentennial Perspectives, “A Clearing in the Woods”

Event Description:

The Harvard University Graduate School of Design, in partnership with the Arnold Arboretum, will host a two-day academic conference as part of the national Olmsted 200 celebration. While Olmsted was central to the conceptual formation of the degree program in landscape architecture at Harvard University and the design of the Arnold Arboretum, the interpretive ambitions of the conference are anything but parochial.

“The Sesquicentennial of a Great American.” Under that unambiguous heading, in 1972 the Olmsted Sesquicentennial Committee elaborated its “simple” reasons for celebrating the living legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted: “to dedicate ourselves to the idea of human survival and to identify this dedication with America’s first and greatest environmentalist.”

Fifty years into our ongoing act of survival, it is time again to reconsider the image of this representative American. America has changed, and so too have its (shared?) notions of greatness, of identity, and certainly its understanding of the varied historical sources of environmentalism. To what ideas do we remain dedicated in this, the year of Olmsted’s bicentennial? The story of Olmsted is perhaps no longer so simple; arguably it is more relevant than ever.

The conference consists of six panels composed of scholars from a variety of disciplines engaged in critical research on both new and familiar areas of Olmsted study. National parks, suburban subdivisions, world’s expositions, battlefields, dispossessed communities, family homesteads, English gardens, slave states, city parks, scenic parkways, forests, and swamps are but some of the sites and scenes that will be examined from a diversity of perspectives.


“A Clearing in the Woods”

Moderated by Hugo Betting

William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, “Arnold Arboretum at 150 – Looking Ahead to the Next Century”
Rosetta S. Elkin, “Out of Place: Landscape Advocacy at the Arnold Arboretum”
Mary Kuhn, “Approaching Olmsted’s Forests”

00:00 Welcome from Edward Eigen
01:48 Introduction from Hugo Betting
06:53 Presentation by William (Ned) Friedman
26:41 Presentation by Rosetta S. Elkin
47:59 Presentation by Mary Kuhn
1:05:21 Panel Discussion
1:14:16 Q+A



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