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Chrysler Museum Exhibition Celebrates Norfolk Scope’s 50th Anniversary
NORFOLK, Va. (Sept. 24, 2021) This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of Scope Arena, one of Norfolk’s most distinctive buildings and arguably its finest piece of modern architecture. The Chrysler Museum of Art will celebrate this occasion with Pier Luigi Nervi: The Art and Science of Building, on view Oct. 1, 2021–Feb. 27, 2022. The exhibition highlights the work of Scope’s internationally famous architect who built UNESCO world headquarters in Paris, skyscrapers in Turin and Paris and the Papal audience hall in the Vatican. It was one of Nervi’s two Olympic arenas in Rome that caught the eye of Norfolk’s visionary mayor Roy B. Martin, Jr. during a televised Olympic event.
“We’re thrilled to present this exhibition on Nervi and highlight Norfolk’s greatest work of modern architecture. He brought art and science together and created beauty out of necessity, inspiring us all,” said Lloyd DeWitt, Ph.D., the Chrysler Museum’s chief curator and Irene Leache curator of European art.
Scope remains the largest thin-shell domed structure in the country and features the same kind of mesmerizing and intricate coffered ceiling that so impressed Martin in 1960. Nervi was an engineer by training and made a virtue of necessity, developing techniques to build large structures with small prefabricated units to avoid using scarce construction cranes in Italy after World War II. He developed steel mesh reinforced concrete that was far lighter and thinner than was in common use, which yielded more elegant and economical results. Nervi said of his technical achievements, “If it is also art, then I am happy.”
Pier Luigi Nervi: The Art and Science of Building is curated by Cristiana Chiorino of Communicarch in Rome, a specialist in Nervi’s work. A video on view at the Chrysler will introduce Nervi the architect while panels will guide visitors through Nervi’s major projects across the world, which include convention centers, an embassy, sports stadiums, skyscrapers, airplane hangars and a cathedral. The show will also include several of Nervi’s studio drawings for Scope, on loan from the Sargent Memorial Collection at the Norfolk Public Libraries, as well as several watercolors by Kenneth Harris recently donated to the Chrysler by the Norfolk Housing and Redevelopment Authority (NHRA), whose urban renewal project was crowned by Nervi’s Scope and Chrysler Hall.
The exhibition coordinated by PLN Comunicarch Associates.
Walking Tour: Norfolk Architecture
Sunday, Dec. 4
2 p.m. │ $15 for Museum members, $20 for non-members
Bundle up in your favorite winter gear and put on your walking shoes! In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Norfolk Scope and the Chrysler Museum’s exhibition that highlights the work of the arena’s architect Pier Luigi Nervi, explore some architectural landmarks of downtown Norfolk. Joshua Weinstein of Norfolk Tour Company will lead the tour and share stories along the way. This walking tour will last approximately 1.5 hours. Meet in Huber Court at the Chrysler Museum. The tour is limited to 24 participants. Registration is required at chrysler.org.
Virtual Lecture: The Architecture of Pier Luigi Nervi
Thursday, Feb. 10
7 p.m. │ Free, donations are welcome to support free programming
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Norfolk Scope, join architectural scholar Thomas Leslie for a virtual presentation about the arena’s architect, Pier Luigi Nervi. Learn more about Nervi’s career and his design of the iconic structure. Leslie is a professor of architecture at Iowa State University who specializes in 20th-century modernist architecture. Registration is required at chrysler.org. The Zoom link will be sent on the day of the event.
ABOUT THE CHRYSLER MUSEUM OF ART
The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized art museums, with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. The core of the Chrysler’s collection comes from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects from his private collection to the Museum. The Museum has growing collections in many areas and mounts an ambitious schedule of visiting exhibitions and educational programs each season. The Chrysler has also been recognized nationally for its unique commitment to hospitality with its innovative gallery host program.
The Perry Glass Studio is a state-of-the-art facility on the Museum’s campus. The studio offers programming for aspiring and master artists alike in a variety of processes including glassblowing, fusing, flameworking, coldworking and neon. In addition, the Chrysler Museum of Art administers the Moses Myers House, a historic house in downtown Norfolk, as well as the Jean Outland Chrysler Library. For more information on the Chrysler Museum of Art, visit chrysler.org.
For more information, interview assistance, or a high-resolution image suitable for publication, please contact Marcella Nicotra at The Meridian Group at (757) 340-7425 or Marcella@themeridiangroup.com.