‘The Art of Seating’ reveals chairs as works of art that tell stories of United States history and design

Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) Knoll Associates, New York, NY (1946-present) Rocking Stool, 1958 Walnut and chrome plated steel wire.

For Immediate Release | IMAGES

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (September 5, 2023) — Despite their everyday use, few objects are taken for granted quite as much as the humble chair. The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design, on view September 16, 2023–February 25, 2024 at Mint Museum Uptown, takes these ubiquitous objects and presents them as fascinating sculptural objects that can tell us much about our own history.

The exhibition includes more than 50 remarkable examples, including chairs sat on by presidents, chairs that were thrown from skyscrapers and chairs designed by renowned makers and architects. All the chairs in the exhibition hail from the rich holdings of the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation. While many of these objects were included in an earlier version of the exhibition that toured to 28 museums across the country, The Mint Museum’s presentation includes a number of chairs that were acquired over the past decade and a dynamic new installation that completely reconceptualizes how the exhibition is presented.

The Art of Seating reveals chairs as works of art that tell stories of United States history spanning from the early 19th century to the early 21st century. These stories range from the contributions of immigrants to changing tastes in style and aesthetics to new innovations in technology and materials. Visitors can admire the works of esteemed makers and designers, including George Hunzinger, the Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Charles and Ray Eames, whose work has left an indelible mark on American design and continues to inspire contemporary artists and designers.

The Art of Seating offers a unique opportunity to explore history and the evolution of design by some of the greatest American designers whose commitment to innovation and quality has shaped the landscape of American seating furniture,” says Jonathan Stuhlman, Ph.D., senior curator of American art at The Mint Museum and organizer of the exhibition.

Public Opening Celebration

The public opening celebration will take place 11 AM–6 PM September 16 and 1-5 PM September 17. Museum admission will be free both Saturday and Sunday of the opening weekend.

Special programming scheduled September 16 includes:

  • The Mint’s Mega Musical Chairs Game: Join in one or both of two rounds of musical chairs. Games commence at noon and 2:30 PM. Prizes will be awarded! Registration is available at mintmuseum.org/events.
  • Curator-Collector Chat: Diane DeMell Jacobsen, Ph.D., chair of the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation, joins Senior Curator of American Art Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, to discuss the collection of chairs featured in The Art of Seating.
  • Chair yoga led by Dancing Lotus Yoga + Arts.

George Hunzinger (1835-1898) New York, NY Side Chair with Curule Base, circa 1870 Ebonized cherry with gilding and a silk show cover.

The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design is made possible through the generous support of PNC. Additional individual support is provided by Mary and Walt Beaver, Sarah G. Cooper, Lucy and Hooper Hardison, and Kati and Chris Small. The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated 248-page scholarly catalogue that is available in The Mint Museum Store.

“As a champion for the arts and longtime collaborator of The Mint Museum, PNC is committed to helping bring thoughtfully curated exhibitions and programming to enhance and excite our region’s appreciation for art,” said Weston Andress, PNC regional president for Western Carolinas. “We look forward to sharing with the community The Art of Seating, which showcases a body of work uniquely relevant to our state’s meaningful contributions in the furniture industry.”


About The Mint Museum
Established in 1936 as North Carolina’s first art museum, The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative cultural institution and museum of international art and design. With two locations — Mint Museum Randolph in the heart of Eastover and Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts — the Mint boasts one of the largest collections in the Southeast and is committed to engaging and inspiring members of the global community.

Clayton Sealey
Senior Director of Marketing at The Mint Museum

Michele Huggins
Associate Director of Marketing at The Mint Museum