The Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America

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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

December 17, 2020 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Transformations in Department Store Design, 1880–1920


Thursday, December 17, 2020

6:00 PM – 7 PM EST on Zoom

Post-Event Update: A video recording of this lecture can be found here.

About this Event

This talk will time-travel to the department stores’ golden era when display professionals transformed the shopping experience through design innovation. At the turn of the twentieth century, architects, window dressers, shopfitters, and interior designers aimed to keep up with ever new display styles, strategies, and technologies. Ongoing building construction and the continual reinvention of window and interior arrangements created a compelling impression of speed and change for the public. Design distinguished stores from their competition and made the retail experience different from one visit to the next. This illustrated review will show how variable display design was central to both the artistic and economic pursuits of leading department stores in Chicago, London, and New York.

Emily M. Orr is the Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary American Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She holds a Ph.D. in the History of Design from the Royal College of Art/Victoria & Albert Museum. She is the author of Designing the Department Store: Display and Retail at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Bloomsbury, 2019) and co-editor of the newly released monograph E. McKnight Kauffer: The Artist in Advertising (Rizzoli Electa/Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, 2020).

Reserve Your Tickets Here


December 17, 2020
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm