We are pleased to announce the opening of Orange Oratory, an activation of the museum’s historic Bridge Tender House co-organized with EXILE Books founder Amanda Keeley. On view November 6, 2015 through January 31, 2016, Orange Oratory is inspired by the 1939 inauguration of the Bridge Tender House, a notable Miami landmark today located in front of the museum on Washington Avenue. The project will coincide with EXILE Books’ residency in The Wolfsonian Shop.
Historically, the concept of Orange Oratory stems from a 1939 Miami Herald article announcing the opening of the 27th Avenue Bridge over the Miami River, the original home of the Bridge Tender House. Headlined “Fruit Juice and Oratory to Feature Span Opening,” the article detailed organizers’ choice of fresh-squeezed orange juice—a signature South Florida thirst quencher—to toast the new architectural landmark with city officials and the Miami community.
“It says something about the South Florida spirit when a project that signaled economic recovery for a region hard-hit by the Great Depression becomes an occasion to celebrate with tangy, tropical beverages,” said Wolfsonian curator Matthew Abess. “Considering the parallels between that moment and our own, we are especially excited for this timely revival of the fruit juice and oratory tradition."
A contemporary reimagining, Orange Oratory takes form as a neon sculpture suspended inside the Bridge Tender House, creating a bright orange beacon that connects to this historic moment. In addition, The Wolfsonian and EXILE Books will informally recreate the 1939 inauguration ceremony at a festive opening reception with complimentary orange juice on November 6, 2015.
Orange Oratory will be presented in tandem with an artist’s book designed by Richard Massey, a virtual exhibition accessible on wolfsonian.org, and a pop-up EXILE Books installation in The Wolfsonian Shop featuring publications thematically linked to the color orange. Both the artist’s book, published by EXILE Books, and the virtual exhibition will highlight and re-contextualize works from the museum’s permanent collection that capture the whimsical, unusual character of what it means to be “Wolfsonian.” Many of the showcased objects—ranging from citrus industry ephemera to bold travel posters advertising Florida’s exotic, tropical allure—are rarely on public display, offering a refreshing new perspective on, and local point of departure into, an internationally renowned collection.
Added Keeley, “Orange Oratory provides a platform for the public to engage with our ephemeral history and re-examine Floridian culture, ultimately provoking new thinking about how we craft our local story.”