Sylvan Cemetery: Architecture, Art and Landscape at Woodlawn coincides with Woodlawn’s 150th anniversary celebration, and is an outgrowth of the Cemetery’s 2006 gift of its archive the most complete set of 19th and 20th century cemetery records held in the public trust to the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University.
Sylvan Cemetery highlights the renowned architects, artists, artisans and landscape designers whose work has come to define Woodlawn Cemetery, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011 for the significance of its art and architecture. Through the display of preparatory and design drawings and sketches, maps, building elevations, early photographs, maintenance records and letters, the exhibition will examine Woodlawn’s creation in 1863, its response and adaptation to changing ideas about memorial monuments and commemorative landscapes since then and its role in defining the art, architecture and landscape of American cemeteries.
Woodlawn exemplifies the landscape-lawn style of cemetery that became popular after the Civil War. The park-like setting encouraged the creation of freestanding monuments and mausoleums, which wealthy New Yorkers commissioned the leading architects to design and the era’s best-known artists and craftsmen to embellish. In the process, fine art sculpture, metalwork and stained glass became central to Woodlawn’s landscape and influenced memorials at other American cemeteries. Featured in Sylvan Cemetery is the work of landscape designers Beatrix Farrand, the Olmstead Brothers and Ellen Biddle Shipman; architects McKim, Mead, & White, Carrère & Hastings and John Russell Pope; as well as craftsmen and artists Rafael Guastavino and son Rafael, Jr., Louis Comfort Tiffany, John LaFarge, Samuel Yellin and Alexander Archipenko.