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Philip Johnson


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Sheldon Museum of Art

Philip Johnson (1906-2005) was retained in April, 1958, to develop plans for the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery. Already a well known figure in architectural circles, Johnson was probably most well known in the 1950s for his collaboration on the Seagram Building in New York City with Mies van der Rohe, and for his now iconic Glass House in New Canaan, Conn. His name was closely linked to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and he was considered particularly adept at museum design.

Johnson was entering his second design phase when his work on Sheldon Gallery was developing. Initially intrigued by European Modernism, he had grown bored with its strict limitations by the late 1950s. He became fascinated with classical architecture and its potential for incorporation into Modernist structures; Johnson's work in the early 1960s reveals his interest in moving architecture in this direction. Sheldon Gallery is an excellent example of his work during this period. Other similar buildings include the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts (1964) and the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth (1961).

Johnson traveled to Lincoln to consult with members of the Sheldon Gallery planning committee. He reviewed and approved of the building site. He later returned to Lincoln to speak at the building dedication.

Johnson went on to enjoy a long career famous for its many design phases. In the 1980s he became one of the country's leading skyscraper designers. Johnson never failed to surprise the architectural community, and was criticized by some in his later career for pandering to styles and trends. Regardless, Philip Johnson remains one of the most prolific and well known architects of his generation. He practiced architecture until his death in 2005 at the age of 98.

Source Information:
Philip Johnson, Elder Statesman of U.S. Architecture, Dies at 98. by Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker, Jan 2005.