99% Invisible Recalls the Unknown Arts Awards of the Olympic Games


London Olympic Stadium by Populous. Image © Morley von Sternberg

London Olympic Stadium by Populous. Image © Morley von Sternberg

We’ve all heard of the record-breaking times, longest distances and of course, winners of those coveted medals, but according to 99% Invisible there is a lesser-known Olympic Games honor participants have received: awards in architecture. In an article tracing the history of this bizarre tradition, Kurt Kohlstedt explores how medals were awarded to five categories of the arts during the Olympic Games, presented to participants alongside their sporting competitors.

An initiative initially proposed in 1906 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) under Pierre de Coubertin, the arts competitions sought to reclaim the former glory of the ancient Games, which themselves recognized singing and music. Coubertin’s modern iteration included five categories of the arts: architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture.

For architecture, entries included conceptual and built projects ranging from stadiums to ski jumps, all to be original athletics-inspired work submitted by amateurs, as was the case with the other categories. First featuring in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, the awards were discontinued after the London Games of 1948. 

Learn more about the “Pentathlon of the Muses” in the 99% Invisible article, here.

News via: 99% Invisible.

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