Photo courtesy Reynolda Museum of American Art


A Genius for Place

A Genius for Place was a collaboration between Robin Karson, a landscape historian, and Carol Betsch, a landscape photographer. Karson studied hundreds of historical landscapes and selected a limited group—just seven—to represent the chronological development of an important movement in American landscape art. Together she and Betsch reflected on the history of the chosen sites and the ideas motivating their landscape designs. Over the course of five years, they traveled to the landscapes, selecting views that would reveal and illuminate the designers’ intentions and express the spirit of each place.


An accompanying book, A Genius for Place, American Landscapes of the Country Place Era, by Robin Karson with photographs by Carol Betsch, is also available.

Karson’s other published works include Fletcher Steele, Landscape Architect, The Muses of Gwinn Pioneers of American Landscape Design, (coeditor), and more than one hundred articles about American landscape design. Carol Betsch has been a landscape photographer for over twenty-five years. Her photographs appear in The Winterthur Garden,  A Modern Arcadia, and other books and articles about American landscape design.

Exhibition Brochure  

Visitors' Comments

“Lovely exhibit. Beautiful to see how nature can be so creatively incorporated into luxurious living.”

“Everything very well done. The Genius for Place photos are a wonderful teaser for those who have not been to these places.”

“A marvelous exhibit in a special setting. The nexus of the built and natural worlds, and their interpretations over time are fascinating.”

“Superb. There should be much more of this—you’ve revealed an unappreciated aspect of American genius.”

“A wonderful reminder of forgotten moments in American landscape history, combining both the familiar and unfamiliar. Photographs extraordinary.”

“Kudos for a beautiful exhibit that renews the renown of landscape architects of note.”


September 12 – December 1, 2000:

PaineWebber Art Gallery, New York, N.Y.

October 6, 2001 – February 18, 2002:

National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.

March 7 – December 2002:

Longue Vue House and Gardens, New Orleans, La.

February 2 – May 18, 2003:

The Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages, Stony Brook, N.Y.

June 29 – September 21, 2003:

The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, N.Y.

February – April 2004:

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Winterthur, Del.

May 23 – October 10, 2004:

Oldfields, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Ind.

February 3 – June 25, 2006:

Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Mass.

October 6 – December 30, 2007:

Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, Tenn.

January 25 – April 25, 2011:

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jacksonville, Fla.

February 18 – August 5, 2012:

Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston–Salem, N.C.