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Northwest Architectural Archives

Mid-Century Modern Exhibit

By September 4, 2014September 16th, 2023No Comments

Advertisement for a cabinet fridge showing a woman with mid-century modern style cabinet refrigerator.By Christine Avery
Archives Assistant, Northwest Architectural Archives

Mid-Century Modern is a term used to describe mid-20th century developments in architectural, interior, product, and graphic design, as well as urban development. In the United States, Mid-Century Modern design became popular as early as the mid-1950s.  The style can be seen in homes and businesses built from 1945 to the 1980s through designs that feature simplicity, flat planes, open spaces, and an integration with nature.

An advertising image of a woman with her Fridgidare refrigerator, wearing a crown on her head. The copy says “You’ll feel like a queen in your kitchen….”The Northwest Architectural Archives is showcasing materials from various collections that show the diverse range of architectural elements that have come to define the Mid-Century Modern style. This exhibit includes trade catalogs, stock plan books, photos and renderings from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. Our stock plan book collection (N101) has over 400 stock plan books assembled for research and reference purposes, the books range from the 1890’s up to the 1960’s. The trade catalog collection (N100) consists of over 7,000 trade publications. It concentrates on goods and services which were used in architecture and all aspects of the building arts and trades.


Photo of Donaldson's Department store before and after the facade has been refaced.Renderings and photos were pulled from the Close Associates collection (N78), Liebenberg and Kaplan collection (N36), Martin Rietz papers (N216)Brooks Cavin papers (N118) and the Harold Spitznagel papers (N25). The Larsen and McLaren collection (N69) is also featured in our display, the firm is known for the refacing of major department stores such as Donaldson’s (Minneapolis) and J.C. Penney stores in Minneapolis and Rochester, as well as the Radisson Hotel (Minneapolis, 1947-1955)

The display cards used in this exhibit are images taken from the Ralph Rapson Collection (N187). (The Finding Aid for the Rapson Collection is not yet available.) An exhibit celebrating Rapson’s life and work will be displayed in the Andersen Library Atrium beginning September 9th!

Photograph of the Mid-Century Modern exhibit now on display at Andersen Library.

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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