The Crump Theater is a significant asset in downtown Columbus – after over two decades of assessment and feasibility studies for its redevelopment, currently the stepping stones for its rehabilitation and reactivation are finally falling into place, and plans for its rebirth as a performance center are gaining momentum. Yet throughout these decades of ups, downs and general uncertainty, the love of residents from Columbus for the Crump has never been frail.
This project consists of a collective love letter showcased through a large-scale exterior curtain installation at The Crump. This letter will be written in the abstract – a new graphic, a new language to capture what people from Columbus love about The Crump. There might be those who love the past the most, its history, its glory as a performance venue since the early 20th Century; others might love the present, its present legacy as one of the few art deco buildings in a city well known for its modern architecture or the memories and experiences that they cherish revisiting today with friends or family; there might be those who love the most imagining the future possibilities of what The Crump could become – a vibrant performance center, not only for Columbus, but for the region and for generations to come. This project’s purpose is to invite both residents and visitors to reflect about the process of transformation of places in Columbus – foremost, this project aims to generate a dialogue about new forms and meanings for preservation, as well as shared values and processes that could guide our decisions about heritage places in our cities.
A historical gem of Columbus shutters
This year on October 30th, The Crump Theater stands 130 years from its opening in 1889. Over a hundred years, from Keith’s Arcade – a vibrant social and business center – to opera house and movie theater, the Crump Theater has seen several rounds of adaptation and renovation to keep up with a demanding and rapidly transforming entertainment industry until finally closing its doors in the late 1990s. The Crump Theater is also an important part of the personal and collective history of multiple generations that were entertained through its multiple performance and film offerings.
How would the next 100 years look for the Crump Theater? Could we imagine collectively what that would look like? This design installation will focus on composing a letter with input from residents about what they love about The Crump – an important narrative to write its future history.
Turning the collective efforts of the community into a public artwork
The selected form and material of this collective love letter is inspired by a signature element of theater and performance venues: large-scale curtains. The curtain will be displayed on the Eastern exterior wall of the building, a surface highly visible from multiple vantage points on Third Street given the space in between the Crump Theater and the adjacent building on the Southwest corner of Third Street and Franklin Street. The curtain will cover approximately 30 feet high from the side of the building, and 60 feet in the horizontal direction. Also highly inspired by Alexander Girard’s both urban and textile design practices, the pattern applied to the curtain will be designed in collaboration with members of the community through participatory workshops where they will contribute to the creation of a graphic and abstract language guided by geometric symbols and color palette – both inspired by the architectural features and character of The Crump.