One Tank Trip: The Art of Seating exhibit


Have a seat. Pull up a chair. Take a load off. All invitations to go from standing up to sitting down.

"What we really hope is that this encourages folks to look anew, at again, something that we tend to take for granted," said Kathleen V. Jameson, executive director of the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Bucks County.

Chairs haven't always been at our disposable. At one time, they were reserved for royalty and high-ranking officials. The earliest chairs date back to 2680 BC and ancient Egypt. An Egyptian revival side chair is where a private collection on exhibit at the museum begins.

"The Art of Seating" is on view through the first week of May. It celebrates what sometimes can seem rather simple.

"We spend a lot of time in chairs. and this will really make you think about that." added Jameson.

The chairs exemplify the best of the best in American design, spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, like one from 1857, made in Philadelphia and designed by Thomas Walter, the architect of the U.S. Capitol.

He made the chairs inside, too, and It's not only a place to sit down, but a symbol of peace and strength.. signifying what the United States stood for.

"This chair is beautiful, but it's almost somewhat deceptive," Jameson detailed. "What you can't tell is how incredibly innovative this chair is."

Because what you can't see are the spring coils underneath that give the chair the bounce it needed while you traveled along the rail line.

Designer Thomas Warren figured out, quite literally, how to accommodate all the bumps in the road with a centripetal spring arm chair.

One looks similar to something else designer Earo Saarinen worked on. It also looks rather comfy, and with all the chairs around, one may want to sit down.

"Yes! So one of the tricks of the trade, you'll see the use of platforms throughout. We hope that little extra step encourages folks not to indulge in that desire," explained Jameson.

Instead, you can sit on benches and enjoy the show.

There's a Navy chair designed during World War II to withstand a torpedo hit.

Chronologically, the last chair in the show, designed in 2004 by Vivan Beer, was cut and crushed out of a single sheet of metal, something so forceful that somehow manages to remind you of water.

All of the chairs, no matter how different, have one thing in common. They are sittable.

"Believe it or not, some of them may seem like a stretch, but all the chairs you can sit on and use," added Jameson.

Just not while they are part of the show.