Every Line is a Decision: The Life and Legacies of Peter Palumbo

March 2022—December 2023

“Every Line is a Decision: The Life and Legacies of Peter Palumbo.” lets visitors jump into the Palumbo years (1971-2003) with a new interpretive wall and introductory film in the Visitor Center. This also marks the return of Miesian furnishings to the House accompanied by some of Lord Palumbo’s art and accessories, as they appeared c.1999.

The British lord, Peter Palumbo purchased the Farnsworth property in 1971 and restored it twice: in 1971-72, and again in 1996-97, following a devastating flood. Lord Palumbo sold the property at auction in 2003, and it was acquired by The Friends of Farnsworth House for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the U.S., with a preservation and conservation easement held by Landmarks Illinois.

Opened to the public in 2004, well over 100,000 visitors from around the world have toured the house and nearly 60-acre property, but very few have heard of Lord Palumbo’s history with the property, and very few outside the U.K. are familiar with his lifelong career in public service of the arts, architecture, and historic preservation. His interests in global investment and philanthropy and in world heritage and culture have guided his personal travels and acquisitions, which he has shared with his wife, Lady Hayat Palumbo, since 1986.

During the three decades the Palumbos owned and improved Farnsworth, they purchased additional farm acreage, kept horses and vintage aircraft and automobiles, and entertained many notable figures, including some of the 20th century’s best-known artists and architects. This fascinating chapter in the history of the Edith Farnsworth House will conclude the “Farnsworth House Founders Series” that launched in 2018 with “Mies and Bauhaus100,” and continued with “Edith Farnsworth Reconsidered.” These three figures: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and Peter Palumbo have all shaped the modern icon that we enjoy today.