The Esherick and Architecture tour interprets three buildings on the Museum campus. Visitors will have the chance to explore the iconic Esherick Studio (1926-66) inside and out, and view Esherick’s log cabin Garage (1928), now the Museum Visitor Center. Furthermore, the tour includes a behind-the-scenes look into the Workshop (1956), which Esherick co-designed with architects Louis Kahn and Anne Tyng. The Workshop was a private home from 1972-2020, and now serves as the Museum offices.
The centerpiece of the Museum, the Studio was Esherick’s workspace, home, and gallery. This iconic building was a forty-year project for Esherick, reflecting his life stories, passions, and wide-ranging interests in avant-garde art, design, literature, drama, dance, and—the focus of this tour—architecture. Built into a wooded hillside, the Studio weaves together a range of architectural elements, from hand-hewn beams and locally sourced sandstone, to sculptural uses of modern building materials.
With its wildly twisting roofline and oblique angled walls, Esherick’s log cabin garage shows his interest in German expressionism, the anthroposophical architecture of Rudolf Steiner, and the fairytale-esque set design of the 1920 silent horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Built as a place for Esherick to park his car and store his lumber, the Garage now serves as the Museum Visitor Center.
Esherick built the Workshop as an annex to his Studio, providing a needed expansion to his workspace. He designed the building in collaboration with two noted Philadelphia modernist architects: Louis I. Kahn, and Anne Tyng, one of the first women architects to emerge from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The drawings that Tyng and Kahn produced were for a concrete building consisting of three abutted hexagonal pavilions with hipped roofs. Esherick’s contributions included a sculptural fireplace and chimney, arcing walls, and a dovetail-like edge detail where the walls adjoin.