Center lectures bring to campus engaging speakers whose topics illuminate Cranbrook's history and enduring legacy.



Monday, April 8, 2024 | 5:00pm
Monday, April 29, 2024 | 5:00pm
Monday, May 6, 2024 | 5:00pm

Monday, May 13, 2024 | 5:00pm

Cranbrook is in the process of selecting an architect to design a new home for Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, including Cranbrook Archives. You are invited to join us as we learn more about the four firms under consideration and how their work aligns with the needs of the Center’s future.


Thursday, May 2nd, 2024
6:30pm - 7:45pm ET
Virtual Lecture

Join the Center on this deep dive into the art and architecture of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Smith House. Developed from the extensive research conducted during her two-and-a-half year Collections Fellowship at Cranbrook, art historian Nina Blomfield will present an intimate look at the fine art and decorative objects assembled by Melvyn and Sara Smith between 1950 and the 1980s. 


The McCoys at Cranbrook: Two Decades of the Academy of Art Design Department

Tuesday, April 18, 2023
The Center’s latest Uncovering the Archives program will once again take a closer look at how new scholarship emerges directly from research of primary resources in Cranbrook Archives. The Katherine and Michael McCoy Papers is an excellent example of how the historical record can lead to contemporary interpretations. Join us as our speaker, Colin Fanning, delves into this transformative legacy of Academy Designers-in-Residence Katherine and Michael McCoy.

Uncovering Cranbrook: Two Pilgrimages to Kentish Cranbrook

Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Join the Cranbrook Center as we explore two pilgrimages to the fascinating market town of Cranbrook in Kent, England—one in 1901 and the other in 2023—and the remarkable connections between the two Cranbrooks—all in anticipation of the Center’s gala fundraiser on May 20, 2023: A House Party at Two Cranbrooks.

History of American Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright

Tuesdays, February 14, through March 14, 2023
Join Kevin Adkisson for the return of the Center’s popular History of American Architecture Lecture Series. The sixth annual installment will focus on the creativity and legacy of America’s most enduring architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.

"Room for a Lady: Loja Saarinen at Cranbrook"—The Director’s Cut

Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Originally produced for the Center’s May 2022 fundraiser, A House Party at Cranbrook, the expanded Director’s Cut of this exploration of the life and career of designer and textile artist Loja Saarinen includes a new interview with Saarinen’s granddaughter, landscape architect Susan Saarinen. The live virtual screenings will be followed by a special behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film and a live conversation with curator and director, Kevin Adkisson and Center fellow, Nina Blomfield.

2022 Bauder Lecture Series

Sundays, April 10, April 24, and May 1, 2022
Complicating Collections at Cranbrook: Representations of a Confederate General, The Crusades, and Native Americans
While Cranbrook’s grounds and architecture serve as sources of beauty and inspiration, several iconic works of art across the campus hold complicated histories. Complicating Collections at Cranbrook, brings four experts to the Center’s virtual auditorium where they will contextualize and enhance our understanding of a sculptural study for a fountain in Texas by Carl Milles intended to memorialize Robert E. Lee; the depiction of the Crusades designed by George Booth and carved by John Kirchmayer in the oak overmantel in the Cranbrook House Library; and the representations of Native Americans by non-Natives in the Cranbrook Map Room, notably A Hunter of Taos painted by Oscar Berninghaus.

Brought to the Table

Sunday, March 27th, 2022
Engaging in the Academy’s long tradition of making functional art and objects for the table, approximately fifty artists from each of the Academy’s eleven departments have created work for tables in Cranbrook’s historic house museums. Created in dialogue with the decorative arts and architecture of each site, experimental new works in a range of media will be sited directly alongside existing pieces in the homes and from Cranbrook collections, challenging the idea of art existing only within the neutral space of the studio or gallery. 

Pipsan Saarinen Swanson: Making of a Modern Designer

Monday, March 21st, 2022
Join the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research for our latest Uncovering the Archives program, as we once again delve into the collections of Cranbrook Archives and bring to light new scholarship. Guest speakers Alison Kowalski and Karen Swanson will explore the largely untold story of Pipsan Saarinen Swanson.

History of American Architecture: Eero Saarinen and His Circle

Mondays, January 31 - February 28, 2022 
Learn about the architects, designers, and thinkers associated with one of Cranbrook’s, and the nation’s, most influential designers: Eero Saarinen.

Sign and Symbol: The Cranbrook House Oak Room Cartouches

Sunday, December 12, 2021
This holiday season, experience Cranbrook House in a new, festive way, as we explore a century of history painted onto the walls of the magnificent Oak Room. 

The Bricks of Cranbrook: Humble Material, Monumental Design

Monday, October 25, 2021
Join the Center for our latest Uncovering Cranbrook lecture, this month focusing on the wonders of Cranbrook’s brick buildings! 

No Compromise: The Work of Florence Knoll

Sunday, September 12, 2021
Book Launch, Lecture, and Conversation with Author Ana Araujo, Architectural Association, London
No Compromise looks at Florence Knoll's extraordinary career in close-up, from her student days at Cranbrook to her professional accomplishments.

Iraq en Route: A Photographic Journey, 1952-1953

Sunday, June 27th, 2021
Join Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research on a photographic journey to midcentury Iraq and explore a nation at a crossroads, when the country and its landscapes of ancient Mesopotamia were en route to tremendous change. Drawing from Cranbrook Archives’ vast collection of Cranbrook Institute of Science photographs, experience a unique opportunity to rediscover a decades-old scientific research trip from an entirely fresh art historical and cultural perspective.

Modernism, Textile Design in India, and the Cranbrook Connection

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021
Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research is pleased to announce the launch of a new seminar program series highlighting the collections of Cranbrook Archives and the contributions they are making to the development of new knowledge.

For the inaugural seminar, Vishal Khandelwal will examine a fascinating connection between mid-century textile design in the United States and India—a connection informed by his research conducted from 2019 to 2021 in Cranbrook Archives.  



A Series of Three Virtual Lectures and Conversations

Join Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research as we examine the histories of three of Cranbrook’s iconic cultural landscapes through the lens of racial and social justice. The 2021 installment of the annual Bauder Lecture Series, Unsettling Landscapes at Cranbrook, brings six historians and experts to the Center’s virtual auditorium where they will help us explore, expand, and enrich our understanding of the histories associated with Cranbrook’s original 1904 Booth Estate, the 1915 Japanese Garden, and the 1950 Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Smith House.

Genius Loci: A Tour of America’s Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios

Sunday, March 14th, 2021
From the desert vistas of Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico ranch to Winslow Homer’s studio on the rocky, windswept cost of southern Maine, the homes and studios of illustrious American artists are sites of extraordinary creativity. Forty-four of the nation’s most celebrated homes and studios have been part of a national coalition of independent museums, the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. On February 10, 2021, the National Trust added four more sites to this prestigious network—one of them is Saarinen House. Join your friends at Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research as we both celebrate this milestone in the history of Saarinen House as a public museum and learn about some of the other forty-seven sites in this nationwide network.


11:00am-12:15pm EST | 7:00pm-8:15pm EST
Virtual Lecture Series

In the fourth annual installment of the Center’s popular series, Kevin Adkisson will examine the past ninety years of architecture history through the framework of distinguished architects who have lectured at Cranbrook and visited the Academy of Art.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020 |  10am & 7pm
Virtual Lecture

This lecture will present Eero Saarinen’s time studying and building at Yale within the context of his teenage years working with his parents in the development of Cranbrook, and the impact his time among the students at Cranbrook Academy of Art in the 1930s had on his trajectory as an architect.


Tuesday, September 22, 2020 |  10am & 7pm
Virtual Lecture

This lecture will trace Wright’s career as a collector of Japanese art, as an architect working in Tokyo, and the lifelong impact of Japanese architecture and gardens on Wright’s designs for American homes.


Virtual Lecture

This lecture will introduce the pedagogy and designs of the Bauhaus, and compare the German institution with our own Academy of Art. How were they similar? How were they different? How are the legacies of each intertwined, and where do they diverge? Join us for this special Uncovering Cranbrook lecture where we will attempt to answer: Is Cranbrook an American Bauhaus?

Studio Loja Saarinen: The Art and Architecture of Weaving

Virtual Lecture

Join Kevin Adkisson in this 50-minute survey of the weaving enterprise led by Loja Saarinen—Studio Loja Saarinen. Staffed by a team of Swedish immigrant weavers, the Studio produced rugs, curtains, and fabrics for use at Cranbrook and around the country. The lecture will review the Studio’s inception and operation, study the textile designs for Kingswood School for Girls, completed in the early 1930s, and focus on how Loja’s textiles were central to the vision of her husband, architect Eliel Saarinen.


Brendan Cormier, Senior Design Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, discussed the exhibition he co-curated, “Cars,” with Center Director Greg Wittkopp in this virtual lecture. Cormier presents the car as a force for change and symbol of social, political, personal, and economic transformation. 


Join curator Kevin Adkisson for this five-part lecture series surveying the history of American architecture through the lens of Cranbrook’s distinct and impressive architectural history. Each seventy-five minute talk moves between the story of Cranbrook’s creation and the history of modern architecture. 

past Lectures


Tuesdays, February 6 through March 5, 2024
Virtual | 12:00pm-1:15pm EST
Virtual and In-Person | 6:30pm-7:45pm EST

Virtual via Zoom
In-Person at Cranbrook Art Museum de Salle Auditorium

Join Kevin Adkisson for the return of the Center’s popular History of American Architecture lecture series. The seventh annual installment will focus on the architecture of Detroit, studying the buildings, designers, and policymakers that shaped the city’s dramatic changes from the late nineteenth century to today, and how Detroiters have influenced the course of architecture around the globe. 


Sunday, September 17, 2023 | 3:00PM EDT
Most Holy Redeemer Church 
1721 Junction Avenue
Detroit, MI 48209

Join Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research in Southwest Detroit for a memorable afternoon learning about the religious architecture of the region. In the spectacular Renaissance Revival sanctuary of the Most Holy Redeemer Church, Center Curator Kevin Adkisson will present a slideshow lecture covering a century of significant architects, artists, and artisans behind the monuments built for faith communities throughout Metropolitan Detroit. After the lecture, attendees will have an opportunity to tour and explore the art and design of the Most Holy Redeemer Church.


Sunday, April 2, 2023
4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT

In-Person Lecture, Conversation, and Book Signing with Charles Birnbaum

Charles Birnbaum is the President, CEO, and Founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, D.C., and Co-Author of the 2022 book, Experiencing Olmsted: The Enduring Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted’s North American Landscapes. This presentation—incorporating big ideas and anecdotes—draws on forty years of Charles Birnbaum’s professional practice and aims to lift the veil on those in Olmsted’s practice and his successor firms (beyond those named Olmsted). The Lecture will be followed by a Reception and Book Signing in Cranbrook Institute of Science’s West Entrance. Olmsted-related documents from the collection of Cranbrook Archives will be on display, including the Olmsted Brothers’ 1928 Planting Plan for Christ Church Cranbrook.


Wednesday, November 30, 2022
6:00pm – 7:15pm EST 
Lecture by Timo Tuomi, University of Helsinki 

Join the Cranbrook Center as we welcome renowned Saarinen scholar Timo Tuomi for this special lecture on architect and designer Eliel Saarinen’s career in Finland. The talk will cover the period between Saarinen forming his practice in 1896 (with Helsinki Polytechnic Institute classmates Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren) to Saarinen’s immigration to Chicago in 1923. Following the lecture, Center Curator Kevin Adkisson will sit down with Professor Tuomi to discuss more details of Saarinen’s transcontinental legacy.


Sunday, September 18, 2022
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT 
Documentary Film Screening and Conversation 

Originally produced for the Center’s May 2022 fundraiser, House Party at Cranbrook, the expanded Director’s Cut of this exploration of the life and career of designer and textile artist Loja Saarinen includes a new interview with Saarinen’s granddaughter, landscape architect Susan Saarinen. A conversation with the film’s director, Kevin Adkisson, and two of the film’s guest experts, Gerhardt Knodel and Nina Blomfield, will follow the screening.


Sunday, June 12, 2022 | 3:00pm - 4:30pm EDT
Presented by the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, in collaboration with the Albert Kahn Legacy Foundation and Albert Kahn Associates   
Conversation, Book Signing, and Reception with Twelve Authors

BAUDER LECTURE | Cars: Accelerating the Modern World

Sunday, June 28, 2020 | 3:00pm
Free Virtual Lecture and Conversation with Brendan Cormier
Senior Design Curator, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

History of American Architecture: Cranbrook in Context

Monday Evenings, January 27, 2020 - February 24, 2019 | 6:30pm

Join Kevin Adkisson for this five-week lecture series surveying the history of American architecture through the lens of Cranbrook’s distinct and impressive architectural history.

Where Today Meets Tomorrow: Eero Saarinen and the General Motors Technical Center

Sunday, November 10, 2019 | 3:00pm
Lecture, Conversation, and Book Signing with Author Susan Skarsgard
Lecture Only: $10 for adults and seniors, $5 for students
Book & Lecture: $70 for adults and seniors, $65 for students

Cranbrook's Japanese Garden: A Vision for the Future

クランブルック日本庭園: 未来のビジョン
Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 3:00pm

Free Lecture, Reception, and Japanese Garden Tours
Master Plan Summary by Sadafumi Uchiyama, Garden Curator, Portland Japanese Garden

BAUDER LECTURE | Conservation Matters: The Work of the Getty Conservation Institute

Sunday, May 5, 2019 | 3:00pm
Free Lecture and Conversation with Tim Whalen
John E. and Louise Bryson Director, Getty Conservation Institute

History of American Architecture: Building Types

Monday Evenings, January 28, 2019 - March 4, 2019 | 6:30pm

Join the Cranbrook for Collections and Research Collections Fellow Kevin Adkisson for this six-week lecture series surveying the history of six building typologies in American architecture. By examining the intersection of design with social, political, and economic forces, this series will introduce ways of seeing and understanding our built environment.

Open Archives

Sunday, September 16, 2018 | 1:00pm - 5:00pm (with short talks at 3:00pm)

Join us for an afternoon of behind-the-scenes tours of the new Archives Reading Room, mini lectures, and a chance to view our collections up-close and personal.

Japanese Tea Gardens and Tea Houses: From Japan to Frank Lloyd Wright and Today

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Celebrate the history of Japanese tea culture, the ongoing revitalization of Cranbrook's Japanese Garden and the connection between Frank Lloyd Wright, the Smiths, and Japan.

Japanese Garden Lecture Series

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 | 7:00pm
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 7:00pm
Thursday, May 17, 2018 | 7:00pm
Tuesday, May 22, 2018 | 7:00pm

This lecture series will feature a presentation of the 2018 Historic Landscape Study of Cranbrook’s Japanese Garden as well as an opportunity to hear from three of the most respected Japanese garden designers working in North America.

The Voices of Cranbrook: History Speaks for Itself

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 | 6:30 pm

Join the Center's Head Archivist for an evening of insight, surprise, and laughter. Hear the voices of some of the people who helped shape Cranbrook, especially during the second half of the twentieth century.

Unpacking Frank Lloyd Wright's Archive and Career

Second Annual Center Bauder Lecture | Sunday, April 8, 2018 | 3:00 pm

Enjoy a free lecture and conversation with architectural historican and curator Barry Bergdoll. The lecture will be followed by a reception and book signing in Page Hall Common Room. 

"Michigan Modern: An Architectural Legacy" Book Launch and Talk

Saturday, March 10, 2018 | 3:00pm

Celebrate the official book launch of Michigan Modern: An Architectural Legacy at this free lecture and conversation with the author Brian Conway and photographer James Haefner, followed by a reception and book signing. 

History of American Architecture Lecture Series

Monday Evenings, January 29 - March 5, 2018 | 6:30pm

Join the Cranbrook for Collections and Research Collections Fellow Kevin Adkisson in this six-week lecture series on the history of American architecture. Using Cranbrook and Detroit as a microcosm of larger developments in American architecture, this series will introduce ways of seeing and understanding the built environment.

"Ellen Browning Scripps: New Money and American Philanthropy" Book Talk

Sunday, November 12, 2017

In her talk at Cranbrook House, Molly McClain will bring to life an extraordinary woman, Ellen Browning Scripps, who played a vital role in the history of women, California, the American West -- and the story of the Scripps and Booth families in Michigan.

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter

Inaugural Bauder Lecture

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Best-selling author and journalist David Sax lectured about his book, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter, which examines the demand for tangible media and handmade objects in the wake of the digital revolution.

Banner photo by P.D. Rearick, CAA '10