The past twelve months have been productive for us here at the Eames Foundation, as we guarded and conserved the prized Eames House alongside many other organizations and individuals. Here is what we were up to in 2019:
The Conservation Management Plan
After many years of meetings, research, planning, and writing, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) published the Conservation Management Plan (CMP) of the Eames House. This 200+ paged resource provides a framework for the conservation and on-going care of our historic property based on our collaborative assessments of the house’s history, its materials’ integrity, and our current and future uses of the space as a house museum. We hosted a celebration in the meadow under the eucalyptus trees and the sparkling sun. We listened to speeches by the GCI’s Director Tim Whalen; the GCI Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative’s Susan McDonald and Chandler McCoy; and our 250 Year Project Director, Lucia Dewey Atwood. Christopher Hawthorne and Edgar Garcia, from the LA City Council and Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, respectively, presented the Getty Conservation Institute and the Eames Foundation with certificates honoring the project.
We are continuously thinking of ways for visitors to experience the residence, studio, and meadow in ways similar to how Charles and Ray did. Still, we were only presenting that opportunity during daylight hours. One of the standard Eames House visits is a private interior tour (we can accommodate three to four tours per day, depending on availability). The increasing interest in tours meant two things: tours were quickly booked or tours were not offered during the times that were more convenient for out of town visitors. To meet this need, we thought we’d give after-hours tours a chance. Many describe visiting the Eames House as a “magical” experience, and offering tours during the transition from day to twilight to night increased that sense of magic! The Twilight Tour serves as a more special occasion and all proceeds benefit our conservation work directly.
Members Appreciation Day and Chair Camp
Each year, we host a day in celebration of our members on the Saturday nearest Charles and Ray’s wedding anniversary in mid-June. Members Appreciation Day is an afternoon of docent-led interior tours, snacks and beverages, and a healthy dose of creative competition with an Eames-related prize. This year, we invited our members to create a miniature chair with provided materials, using the Eames House and site as inspiration. Since our event sold out ahead of time (this was our most attended year yet), we offered two additional “Chair Camp” sessions in June—one for families and one for adults.
If interested, you may sign up for an Eames Foundation membership(available in various membership levels), which gives you two tickets to our annual event!
California Preservation Foundation Award
In July, the California Preservation Foundation (CPF) listed the Eames House as one of the historic structures in the running for a preservation award. In October, CPF presented the Eames Foundation with a distinction in the “Cultural Resource Studies” category for its efforts on the Conservation Management Plan in tandem with the Getty Conservation Institute. During deliberation, the jury noted, “The Eames House CMP is one of the first CMPs to be completed in the US. In addition to providing a valuable management tool for this National Historic Landmark property, this CMP demonstrated the methodology is entirely compatible with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. It also provides a model for other modern sites…[the Eames Foundation has] done something that other people can learn from, and they’ve done it really well. I think that providing this information for other people is really, really useful.”
NPR Covers the Eames House
NPR presented the segment “Charles And Ray Eames Made Life Better By Design; Their Home Was No Exception” on All Things Considered, covered by arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco. Lucia Dewey Atwood and docent Jennifer Polito spoke of the home’s site, industrial materials, objects, and irreplaceable value toward the history of modern architecture. Susan Macdonald of the Getty Conservation Institute mentioned the conservation similarity between the Eames House and sites with ancient ruins. We hope you’ll take a listen!
Eucalyptus LTR Membership
In 2014, the Getty Conservation Institute funded a study of the site’s trees. An arborist analyzed their Safe Useful Life Expectancy (SULE) and identified a list of high-risk trees that needed to be removed. The thought of clearing trees from the site saddened us, especially as we remembered the picnics, flower arranging, and film shoots Charles and Ray (and our visitors!) have enjoyed under their canopies. Instead of discarding the trees, the idea of repurposing them into a limited-edition Eames products came about with our partners, Herman Miller and Vitra. With their help, and the help of the Eames Office, Melinger Tree Services, and Angel City Lumber, we were able to manufacture nearly 600 Eames LTRs from two special eucalyptus trees in the meadow.
As a fundraising opportunity, Herman Miller gifted the Eames Foundation with a select number of Eucalyptus LTRs, and we invited the public to join our exclusive Eucalyptus LTR Membership in exchange for the coveted design. We have a hunch that Charles and Ray would be ecstatic that the wood from their beloved eucalyptus trees has been transformed into one of their designs and will be sent to many homes to be cherished.
Online Booking Calendar
This fall, we were able to streamline the reservation experience for our visitors by launching an online booking calendar for exterior visits. The system gives our potential visitors a sense of our availability and allows our staff to focus less on logistical emails and provide more attention to our current on-site visitors and special projects. We hope that we have made it easier for Eames fans to reserve a visit to the house!
Ray Eames Park
In October, a park in the Crocker Village neighborhood of Sacramento, California (where Ray grew up) was deemed “Ray Eames Park.” Our Director of Conservation and Eames granddaughter, Lucia Dewey Atwood, assisted in the nomination and voting process at the Sacramento City Hall. Although the focus of the Eames Foundation is to be the stewards of one particular piece of property tied to the Eameses, it is important that our Director of Conservation and staff advocate for other properties with an Eamesian context. We are genuinely looking forward to seeing the on-going development of this public space!
The House Turns 70!
On December 24th, 2019, the Eames House will celebrate its 70th birthday! Charles and Ray began construction on their home in February 1949 and, after ten months of construction, the couple moved in on Christmas Eve. We are planning a series of events to keep the celebration going in the year 2020.
Docent and Intern Program
Over the last few years, we have steadily grown our docent and intern programs. In 2019, we hosted two docent trainings and welcomed a new crop of docents excited to volunteer their time and share with visitors Charles and Ray’s approach to life and work through the context of their home. We welcomed three wonderful and dedicated interns who worked on various special projects and continued to educate visitors about the Eames House. We are continuously looking for more docents and interns, so we hope you are interested in joining our team!
More Press and Growth
We are honored to have been featured in the following online and print publications in 2019: LA Times, Dwell, New York Magazine, Phaidon’s Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century, Herman Miller’s Why Magazine, Vitra Magazine, and more.
THANK YOU for investing in the on-going care of the Eames House, whether you were a visitor, a donor, a member, or a long-time Eames fan. May the rest of 2019 bring you warmth and happiness!
The Eames Foundation Staff