Design Cycles: Goldstein Museum Explores Biking in Minnesota

DSC_3487.jpgCan you imagine using a phone designed in the 19th century? Or driving a Model T? Remarkably, bike frames have remained relatively unchanged since the invention of the safety bicycle in 1876. Design Cycles, the latest exhibition from the Goldstein Museum of Design, explores bicycle history, infrastructure, and design Minnesota.

Assistant curator Jean McElvain was inspired by the endurance of the bicycle as an invention, and curious about Minnesota’s reputation as a bike-friendly state. She took advantage of our state’s bicycle resources, connecting with bike planners at MNDOT and the cities of St Paul and Minneapolis, U of M Parking and Transportation Services, the Center for Transportation Studies, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, and the Women on Bikes coordinator.

She also met with several local bicycle designers and builders. “I would typically go somewhere to meet with someone and not really know what I’d find,” she explained. “For example, I didn’t go meet with Pat Sorensen, President of Penn Cycle and Fitness, to find his first bicycle or an exploded internal hub. These stories surfaced over the course of the exhibition. I just wish I had space to tell more stories!”

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Rather than including a range of bicycle types (there are no recumbents or unicycles in the show) or explaining the physics of bicycle propulsion, McElvain focused on “the beauty of expert design and construction within a common bicycle typology. I wanted people to understand the leap in design excellence that takes place with both new bicycle innovations and custom made frames.”

DSC_3452.jpgMcElvain hopes that viewers leave Design Cycles with a better understanding of Minnesota’s bike resources and the value of cycling to a community. “Whether you bicycle regularly or not, having both the infrastructure and a social landscape that accommodates human-powered transportation adds value on many levels. The bicycle was, and is, a political object and some have a hard time valuing as an integral part of our transportation system.”

Design Cycles runs January 24 through May 10, in Gallery 241 McNeal Hall; and the Goldstein will host a cycling panel discussion in March. Stay tuned for more details!

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