A New Photography Exhibit Showcases Michigan’s Modern Architecture

Catch ”Michigan Modern: An Architectural Legacy” in-person at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum or online with a virtual offering
michigan modern architecture
Louis and Josephine Ashmun House in Midland, by Architect Alden B. Dow. // Photograph by James Haefner

After being closed for almost a year, the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University is reopening to the public on April 10 with a new exhibit, Michigan Modern: An Architectural Legacy. On view through June 26, the exhibition will showcase 50 images by photographer James Haefner that highlight the state’s modern architectural design history from 1928 through 2012.


Haefner originally produced the photographs for a 2018 book by author Brian D. Conway that shares the same name as the exhibit. The book — and now the exhibit — showcases work by architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Alden B. Dow, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Minoru Yamasaki, and Zaha Hadid. “It is our hope that [this] exhibition of the beautiful color photographs found in Michigan Modern: An Architectural Legacy will continue to inform and inspire those that value great design in their lives and communities,” says Haefner in a press release. 


For metro Detroiters who have enjoyed the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum’s virtual offerings during the pandemic and can’t make the trip out to Saginaw anytime soon, we have good news. Michigan Modern will be available for view in a digital format as well as the in-person exhibit. 

McGregor Memorial Conference Center, located on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit, by Architect Minoru Yamasaki. // Photograph by James Haefner

The virtual exhibit will also launch this Saturday. Hosted on the museum’s website, the exhibit will include a 360-degree tour of the physical showcase and a section where visitors can learn more about the museum’s namesake, “Spirit of Detroit” sculptor Marshall Fredrick, and his connection to modern architecture. The virtual offering will also feature photographs — including behind-the-scenes images from one of Haefner’s shoots — not found at the museum.  


A couple of weeks after the opening, the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum will host a virtual artist talk on April 27 with Haefner and Conway. The two will discuss their book, how the text came to be, and stories behind photos found in the exhibit. Those interested in attending can register in advance online. 


There is no cost to access the virtual exhibition or event. Those who wish to visit the museum in person, can find more details about COVID protocols online. 


For more information, visit marshallfredericks.org.