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Cranbrook Academy of Art Director's Office: Gerhardt Knodel Records

Identifier: 2008-05

Collection Scope

Much of the collection documents the meetings and correspondence of Cranbrook Academy of Art (CAA) faculty and various boards, councils, and committees. Communications amongst CAA staff, faculty, volunteers (like the Women’s Committee and later ArtMembers), Academy alumni and other stakeholders, other CEC departments, and the artists, groups, and institutions with which Knodel and the Academy staff collaborated. Some of these materials were created during routine Academy business, others discuss one-time projects like exhibitions, events, travel, and the efforts to design, fund, and construct the New Studios Building and to complete Academy renovations.

Series I: Administration (1994-2010)

Includes letters and memos, faculty files, meeting minutes or notes, and materials produced by boards and councils.

Notes and printed materials were also preserved from regularly-occurring faculty meetings, and yearly events like new student orientation, Director's Day, and the humanities and critical studies symposiums.

Series II: Special Projects (1995-2006)

Contains office files about special projects: councils, events, exhibits, and trips, including the Millenium Project, in which students of the different Academy departments made a dozen or more trips, mostly from 1996-2000. These files often contain agendas, correspondence planning the visits, and sometimes printed ephemera from the trips. In some cases, Knodel retained written student reflections. There are also plans that were cancelled because of, or otherwise refer to, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Series III: New Studios Building (1996-2002)

Holds assessment documents like studies and surveys, plans, and design and construction correspondence about the New Studios Building and other architectural improvements to Academy buildings. Files track the design, construction and funding processes for a long-desired Academy studio space for fiber, ceramics, and metalsmithing students, as well as renovations to existing CAA facilities. Event planning for the 2000 groundbreaking and the 2002 dedication of the building, and promotional media like brochures, press releases and article clippings are included.

Project Initiative Team (PIT) files include correspondence with the architects Jean-Claude Azar, George Hedgespeth, Dan Hoffman, Mary Kauper, Joe Metro, Marsha Miro, Peter Osler, Roberta Stewart, Beth Stone, and Greg Wittkopp.


  • 1994 - 2010



Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.


Gerhardt Knodel was Director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1996-2007. Before directing the Academy, Knodel had been the Fiber Department's artist-in-residence and head since 1970, where he renamed the Fabric Design Department and expanded its focus beyond craft to conceptual art.

As Director, Knodel managed regularly occuring events such as new student orientation, faculty meetings, and Humanities and Critical Studies symposia, as well as cultivated donor support and alumni relations. In addition to local activities, Knodel traveled yearly to build and maintain relationships with the Cranbrook arts community in the United States and abroad. The 1999 Postopia exhibit at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles is one example. Beginning with Knodel's tenure, the Academy launched the Millenium Project, during which departments took study-enhancing trips, with support from the Women's Committee.

Perhaps most notably, the New Studios Building, designed by Rafael Moneo to house the departments of metalsmithing, ceramics, and fiber, came to fruition during Knodel's directorship. While this long effort began during Roy Slade's presidency of the Academy, Knodel ovesaw much of the planning, the groundbreaking in October 2000, and the dedication of the 3-story, L-shaped building in September 2002. Other needed renovations, such as upgrades and restoration for existing studios and interior renovation for the Art Museum’s south wing and offices, were completed in the same years by the architecural firm, Quinn Evans.

Gerhardt Knodel retired in 2007, in order to focus on his studio art work which continues to explore the effects and boundaries of fiber environments and objects.


4.2 Linear Feet ((10 MS) )

Language of Materials



Gerhardt Knodel directed the Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1996-2007. Before that, Knodel served as the Fiber department's artist-in-residence since 1970. This collection preserves meeting documents, correspondence, notes and other records from his tenure as Director, related to the Academy of the Art, from day-to-day and year-to-year operations as well as projects, including exhibits, events, and the design and construction of the New Studios Building.


The collection is divided into three series and arranged in chronological order, except where noted.

Series I: Administration (Boxes 1-5) is divided into four subseries by type of record or subject.

Subseries 1: Correspondence. Subseries 2: Faculty is arranged alphabetically by name. Subseries 3: General. Subseries 4: Governance is arranged alphabetically by name.

Series II: Special Projects (Boxes 5-8)

Series III: New Studios Building (Boxes 8-10, 1 OS folder)




Departmental transfer from Office of the Director in 2008 and 2012.

Related Materials

Cranbrook Academy of Art Administration Records (1981-09).

Cranbrook Academy of Art President's Office: Roy Slade Records (1995-09).

Cranbrook Foundation Office Records (1981-05).

Cranbrook Academy of Art Women's Committee (1991-01).

Cranbrook Photograph Collection (2020-03).

Cranbrook Academy of Art Assistant to the President : Bob Yares Records (2012-06).

Processing History

Processed by Meredith Counts in October 2023.

Guide to the Cranbrook Academy of Art Director's Office: Gerhardt Knodel Records
Meredith Counts
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Repository