The Ford House

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House tells the story of the home life of a prominent American family.

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The Studio: Edsel & Diego Opens April 1
Posted: March 19, 2015

Illuminating the unique relationship between artistic genius Diego Rivera and automotive scion Edsel Ford, Edsel & Eleanor Ford House (Ford House) unveils “The Studio: Edsel & Diego,” a new immersive space created to coincide with the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) exhibit “Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit.”  The Studio:  Edsel & Diego opens at Ford House on Wednesday, April 1.

 The Studio creates a space for visitors to explore the era of the mid-1930s when leading designers, architects and artists worked with Edsel and Eleanor Ford on their home, with Ford Motor Company, and within the arts community, including the Fords’ support of Rivera’s “Detroit Industry Murals” at the DIA.

 “We are so fortunate that Edsel Ford and Diego Rivera understood one another, respected one another, and appreciated one another,” Kathleen Mullins, president of the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, said. “By working together, they created one of the world’s most remarkable works of art. The Studio: Edsel & Diego experience is designed to give visitors a chance to be part of that world, as well as provide a deeper look at the artists and designers who helped build Ford House.”

The Studio, which is located in the historic South Cottage at the estate, includes four interactive spaces: The Lounge, The Design Studio, The Craft Studio, and The Artist Studio. Together these spaces offer visitors an opportunity to imagine the types of places where Edsel Ford and Diego Rivera may have exchanged perspectives and shared their unique vision.  

 The Lounge - the centerpiece of The Studio presents a 1930s living room with designed modernist furnishings.  It is a place where people can sit, talk, read, play original games from the 1930s, and listen to music or view film clips from the period while enjoying a cup of coffee.

·         The Design Studio – brings life to Edsel Ford, Albert Kahn, Jens Jensen, and Walter Dorwin Teague…all key contributors to the creation of the Fords’ home.  Visitors can design the car of the future on the same style of chalkboard used by 1930s automotive innovators, share their thoughts on a 30s streamlined typewriter, investigate early architectural and landscape plans for Ford estate, and review the automotive designs of Edsel Ford and hear his voice as he shares his views on the importance of design.

·         The Craft Studio - focuses on Maija Grotell, a well-known ceramic artist, whose work adorned many homes in the Detroit region, including the Fords’. Visitors can view original 1939 film footage shot by Charles Eames when the two taught at Cranbrook, and imagine themselves as the artist sitting at a 30s style potter’s kick-wheel and handling ceramic tools true to the period.

·     The Artist Studio – focuses on Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.  Visitors are invited to create a magnet board mural of Detroit, sketch their self-portrait in the spirit of Kahlo, and borrow a sketchbook and find inspiration on the grounds of Ford House.


About The Detroit Industry Murals, Edsel and Diego

In 1932, Edsel Ford commissioned painter Diego Rivera to create the "Detroit Industry" murals for the DIA. Were it not for his patronage and support, Rivera’s masterwork murals would not exist in Detroit. A second mural, commission by the Rockefeller family in New York, was destroyed when the artist refused to remove a portrait of Soviet icon Vladmir Lenin from his studio. Rivera refused to remove similar items from the mural; when local figures and institutions called for the murals’ destruction, Edsel Ford stepped in to ensure its survival.

 Rivera considered the “Detroit Industry” murals the best of his career; today they are recognized around the world as a masterpiece.  Rivera also painted a portrait of Edsel Ford, the original of which is part of the DIA exhibition, a reproduction is on view in the main house. The portrait depicts Edsel Ford at the design table.  In the background is a large-scale blueprint of a modern automobile. 

 Program Descriptions

The Studio
Open April 1
Free with admission

Step out of 2015 and into the mid-1930s with The Studio, an interactive exhibit space that brings to life the creative energy of the leading designers, architects, and artists who created the Ford House estate. Sit in the lounge with a cup of coffee and flip through magazines from the 1930s, explore design objects and games from the period, or experiment with the tools of each artist’s trade as you immerse yourself in the modern designs of the era. With plenty to do, see, and learn, this artists’ retreat is a second home you’ll find yourself returning to again and again. During Open Studio Sundays (Sundays, April 12-June 14, 1-3 p.m.) visitors can drop by to explore a different artistic medium through simple hands-on art projects, such as painting, pottery, metalsmithing, and drawing.

 Sketch and Sip
May 28 and June 18, 7 p.m.
$50/$40 members

Step behind the barriers with this rare opportunity to experience Ford House after hours. Enjoy an intimate tour of the home’s staff and utilitarian spaces, then top off the evening with sketching, wine, and light hors d’ oeuvres in a surprise location sure to inspire your artistic muse. Sketchbooks, pencils, and instruction provided

 Secret Spaces: Pop-Up Drawing at Ford House
April 25 and May 23, 10 a.m.
$30/$25 members

Pop over to Ford House for an art lesson with a twist! Immerse yourself in a behind-the-scenes spaces. As you move from room to room you will discover the history of the Ford family and staff.  Then you can hone your drawing skills to capture the details of a moment in time on paper. Sketchbook, pencils, and instruction provided.

 Visual Biographies: Portraits at Ford House
April 18, May 2, and May 16, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
$15/$13 members.  $22 when combined with a 10AM general house tour.

 Take a special tour of Edsel & Eleanor Ford House that is designed to focus on painted and photographic portraits as visual biographies, emphasizing the relationships between artist and sitter.  Discovery cards will be provided for families and groups with children.


 Reservations are required for special programs, excluding The Studio and may be made in the events section of the web site.

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