For more than 70 years the modest American city of Columbus, Indiana has shown the world that good design can create an exceptional place to live, work, and play. Today, Columbus consistently ranks among the best cities of its size, and its exceptional design heritage includes seven National Historic Landmarks.
With an inaugural symposium in fall of 2016 and its first exhibition in fall of 2017, Exhibit Columbus seeks to celebrate Columbus’ design heritage while making it relevant to new audiences. The initial program will be followed by another symposium and exhibition in 2018 and 2019, creating a new and ambitious cycle of events. The 2016 “Foundations and Futures” symposium was held September 29 to October 1. The symposium served as the kickoff for the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Competition, the central component of Exhibit Columbus. Through a juried competition, the Miller Prize will be awarded to five artists and designers who will design, build, and install temporary projects in response to one of five Columbus icons. This competition’s name honors the legacy of two of the twentieth century’s greatest patrons of architecture, art, and design, and a family whose visionary commitment to community remains unparalleled.
The 2017 exhibition will focus on site-responsive installations that connect with and comment on Columbus’ design legacy. Programming for Exhibit Columbus will occur downtown in the Columbus Arts District and attract world-renowned designers, historians, and fabricators, while at the same time re-energizing the local community around its extraordinary design heritage and the potential to realize new designs.
Exhibit Columbus will challenge today’s designers (architects, artists, landscape architects, furniture and graphic designers) to think deeply about Columbus and create new ideas that have the power to transform communities. At the same time, Exhibit Columbus will encourage artists and designers to explore the history of making in the Midwest and to use fabricators and material resources from the Columbus area to create their work. There is no other place in the world like our community, and no city as well positioned today to host an internationally relevant conversation about the future of design, fabrication, and design education.
Exhibit Columbus will appeal to a broad community, including tourists, designers, engineers, students, and builders and makers of all kinds, while re-establishing a global conversation about design in Columbus.