Perisphere & Trylon Artifacts Models

Wolfsonian Museum, Miami Beach, FL

The Wolfsonian-FIU Museum in Miami Beach, Florida houses a significant collection of icons of Twentieth Century design. The objects housed in its Art Deco building represent the range and character of the styles that are associated with the period; sleekness, clarity of purpose and a faith in the future. Among its collection of Modernist artifacts are models that are representative of the didactic aspirations of the time.

We were contracted by the museum to assess two of these artifacts in preparation for their exhibition. One, an architect’s presentation model of the Perisphere and Trylon, is the emblem of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Fabricated of polished stainless steel and chrome plated brass with wood details, the model depicts architects Wallace Harrison and J. Andre Fouilhoux’s design for the Theme Center building. The grand scale of the actual buildings, the Trylon was 700 foot tall, is belayed by the careful craftsmanship of the hand-made model. The other is a painted wood model of a futuristic car. Its aerodynamic curves and wrap around windshield and headlight represent the 1930’s ideal of speedy and sleek appearance, again softened by the model maker’s workshop touches and inventive use of found objects.

Our conservators studied each object, documented its conditions, noting failures and surface damages, and developed treatment recommendations for each item. The museum then performed the work before loaning the objects for exhibitions.