The home of Walter Gropius and his family in Lincoln, Massachusetts, is filled with personal touches-coats and hats hanging in the hall, an Olivetti typewriter in the study, Ise Gropius's earrings on the dressing table, black-and-white towels hanging in the bathroom. Visitors constantly remark that the house feels as if the Gropiuses had just gone out for a stroll. Every time that happens, SPNEA has the Gropiuses' daughter, Ati Gropius Johansen, to thank.
For nearly twenty years, Mrs. Johansen has worked with SPNEA staff to bring the appearance of the Gropius House closer to the time when her parents were living there. She has offered special workshops for staff on the history of the modern movement, arranged furnishings and objects inside the house, and recorded hundreds of hours of taped recollections about daily life at home. She has given SPNEA objects that had once been in the house because she felt they would illustrate her father's design philosophy. In addition to being the family home, the house had always been a teaching tool for students, architects, and visitors from all parts of the world.
Throughout SPNEA's extensive restoration of the house and landscape, which has been under way for the last fifteen years, Mrs. Johansen has provided invaluable advice. Most recently, she made and donated arrangements of silk flowers, replicating the kinds of arrangements her mother used to place around the house at different times of the year. She fine-tuned object placements so that curtains, fine art, jewelry, and even dishes and forks are correctly located. Before anything could accidentally be shifted, documentary photographs were taken to create a permanent record. SPNEA has benefitted greatly from Ati Johansen's dedication and guidance, which will ensure that the interpretation of Gropius House will always be both full of life and accurate.
Director of Interpretation & Education