A Palm Springs Art And Architecture Crawl For Mid-Century Modern Lovers

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I come to Palm Springs for the weather, but many visitors flock to this desert oasis for outstanding mid-century modern architecture and a very vibrant art scene. Modernism Week every February is the cherry on the desert architecture cake in the city and the Palm Springs Art Museum has a collection to rival any major city in North America. If you need a break from the heat step inside the museum or take a Mod Squad Architecture and Design tour. You won’t be disappointed and I can guarantee you will learn something and gain a new appreciation for modern and contemporary art and design. Join me on my own Palm Springs art and architecture crawl, you can do it all in one day or break it up over a few days. The choice is yours.

Looking through rose coloured glasses

Palm Springs Mod Squad – You and your partner move to Palm Springs. You buy a mid-century modern fixer upper, renovate and restore it then sell it. During that time you volunteer and run an architecture and design tour throughout Modernism Week only to have people tell you that you should do them full time.

This is the story of Kurt Cyr of Palm Springs Mod Squad. A two-hour chauffeured drive around Palm Springs by Kurt where he dazzles and amazes you with an in depth history of the desert modernism design, the architects that founded it and of course some of the Hollywood celebrities that called Palm Springs home. Kurt has forgotten more of Palm Springs art and architecture than I will ever know.

The tour begins at the Saguaro Hotel on East Palm Canyon Drive. A design wonder all by itself. We hop into the mini van and our tour begins. Kurt lives and breathes his work so it is no surprise he could talk for 2 hours without stop and still have more to tell us. His passion for mid century modern design and architecture comes through from the minute he says hello.

Starting point of the Palm Springs Mod Squad tours at the Saguaro Hotel

The Palm Springs Mod Squad van

Kurt welcomes us all on his Palm Springs Mod Squad tour

Kurt weaves his way through town stopping at house after house. Each one with a unique story behind it. It could be the architect, the owner or the fight to preserve and restore. It could also involve all three. Here are some of the memorable stops for me with a bit about each.

Steel Development 1962 Alexander Construction Company- Donald Wexler, Architect folded-plate roof

Racquet Club Estates, 1959-1961 Alexander Construction Company development, William Krisel, Architect

We even drive by Frank Sinatra’s first Palm Springs home which apparently you can rent if you have big $$$$.

Palm Springs Art Museum – 150,000 square feet. That is what the Palm Springs Art Museum has for you to explore. At a cool 75 degrees Fahrenheit year round there are 28 galleries, two sculpture gardens, four classrooms/resource centres, an artists’ centre, five storage vaults, an 85-seat lecture hall, a 433-seat theatre, a 1,000 square-foot store, plus a popular café. This may take more than one day to explore.

Sculpture at the Palm Springs Art Museum

When’s a great time to go? Thursday evening from 4-8 pm is free admission and every second Sunday is also free to enter. There is no excuse now.

Inside the Palm Springs Art Museum

Exhibits cover everything from Native American basket weaving art to more modern and contemporary pieces.

Native American basket weaving display at the Palm Springs Art Museum

I love this tableau of a mid century modern table and chairs with a small TV. This was once considered mobile… how the times have changed.

Remember when this was considered mobile TV?

Another of my favourite pieces helps others to see me through rose coloured glasses, just kidding. There is lots to discover and uncover at the Palm Springs Art Museum, this is just a teaser.

Looking through rose coloured glasses

Next time you visit Palm Springs make sure you include a tour of some of the cities art and architectural wonders. You won’t be disappointed and perhaps something will inspire a design change in your own home.

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Disclosure: General

Thanks to Visit Palm Springs for their support in hosting this adventure series. My views and opinions are 100% my own.


About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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