Set to a recorded Los Angeles philharmonic symphony, the Getty Institute Research Institute (GRI) has created an experimental digital exhibition, Sculpting Harmony, that tells the story of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, a landmark which turned twenty this year. The digital gallery shows over 150 models, sketches, photographs, and 3D ephemera to show the immense work that went into designing the world-famous concert hall, completed in 2003.

Large scale model of symphony chamber (© Frank O. Gehry/Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles)

“Getty is reimagining how our art collections and archives can be experienced online and in Los Angeles,” said Mary Miller, director of the Getty Research Institute, in a press release. “It is important to us to bring our archives to a broader audience, perhaps a different audience, and to give them a chance to experience something they might never experience otherwise.” 

In designing the performance venue Gehry and his studio worked on hundreds of physical and digital models at various scales, using a variety of materials. Among this is a large rendition of the interior of the symphony chamber that hones in on the seating arrangement. Other physical models, equally as sophisticated and detailed, were crafted using simple materials, such as paper to craft the swooping sail-like panels so distinctive to the building’s exterior and plastics to depict windows and glass elements.

The digital exhibition Sculpting Harmony coincides with a physical show, Modeling Sound, on view at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which showcases the papers of Gehry currently held at the Getty Research Institute. The physical exhibition is on display through October 29.

1988 competition model by Frank Gehry (© Frank O. Gehry/Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles)
(© Frank O. Gehry/Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles)

“Despite their importance in the design process, the architectural models in Getty’s collection remain difficult to access and have been rarely seen by the public,” stated Maristella Casciato, senior curator of architecture at GRI. “Following Getty’s acquisition of the Frank Gehry archive, the Getty Research Institute and Getty Digital have partnered to develop innovative ways to foster access to our vast models collection, including 3D digitization, in order to provide new opportunities for research, scholarship, and study.”

On October 24, a public discussion about the building between Gehry and L.A. philharmonic conductor laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen moderated by the GRI’s Maristella Casciato takes place at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.

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