Precession: R. Buckminster Fuller's Creative Connections

Precession: R. Buckminster Fuller's Creative Connections

EXTENDED: Exhibition to show October 7, 2021 — January 30, 2022, in Cecil H. Green Library 

Precession: The effect of bodies in motion on other bodies in motion.

All the inner effects of all, or most bodies in motion, and all other bodies in motion in [the] Universe is all "precessional." So I hope that instead of this just being a word that seems remote to you now, it suddenly begins to be important.

-R. Buckminster Fuller

Stanford Libraries presents Precession: R. Buckminster Fuller’s Creative Connections, on view October 7, 2021, through January 30, 2022, in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda, Cecil H. Green Library Bing Wing. Fuller is perhaps best known as the patent-holder of the geodesic dome. Yet his projects were quite varied and touched upon many principles of creative scientific inquiry. The exhibition celebrates the creative connections between R. Buckminster Fuller and his contemporaries.

In 1999, Stanford Libraries acquired the archive of R. Buckminster Fuller, currently our largest single manuscript collection with over 1300 linear feet of papers and numerous recordings and models spanning the years 1920—1983. This massive collection has brought new insights about Fuller to light and illuminated key relationships with Fuller and other creative thinkers across his multifaceted career as a mathematician, professor, and public intellectual. More than just acquaintances, these meetings of minds created what Fuller might have called “precessional” effects, with each exerting incremental influences on one another’s paths.

Fuller said that “precession is completely regenerative… one brings out the other,” and this was indeed the case concerning Fuller’s friendships with various artists, intellectuals, and global thinkers over the course of his more than 60 years as an architect and public intellectual. 

In this exhibit, precession is used as a metaphor for the reciprocal influences between Fuller and other creatives. In this, we acknowledge that ideas don’t happen in a vacuum; that context and interpersonal relationships are key elements in personal and professional development.

Fuller had hundreds of friendships, professional relationships, and collaborators throughout his life, which he maintained through travel as well as copious correspondence. This exhibit focuses on just a handful of the many well-documented relationships within the Fuller Collection and other manuscript collections at Stanford Libraries.

In conjunction with the exhibition’s opening, a virtual panel discussion: R. Buckminster Fuller’s Creative Connections, hosted by the Department of Special Collections and Stanford Libraries, will occur online on October 14th, 2021, from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm PT. See more information below. This event is free and open to the public; registration is required.

The exhibition Precession: R. Buckminster Fuller’s Creative Connections is curated by Hsiao-Yun Chu and Robert Trujillo; produced, designed, and installed by Deardra Fuzzell. We wish to acknowledge the many people who contributed their time and expertise to make this exhibition possible. Special thanks to Jaime Fuller Snyder and the Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller; Norman Foster and Alicia V. Royo of the Norman Foster Foundation; Elena Ochoa Foster, Valerie Maasburg, and the staff of IvoryPress; the Imogen Cunningham Trust; and the Isamu Noguchi Museum and Foundation. We also wish to acknowledge the following people for their support: Michael Keller, Meagan Trott, Wayne Vanderkuil, Christopher Hacker, Glynn Edwards, Arcadia Falcone, Laura Wilsey, Jessica Cebra, Catherine Aster, Brian Kerrick, Ramoncito Cuenco, Laurence Cefalu, Addie Lanier, Jeffrey Head, Tom Gitterman, and David Tucker. 

NOTE: In addition to the physical exhibition, there is a forthcoming online exhibition; stay tuned to the Current Exhibits page for updates.

Fuller's Creative Connections will be on display in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda exhibit cases from October 7, 2021—January 30, 2022.

NOTE: Exhibit cases in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda are illuminated from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to call 650-723-0931 or visit the Library Hours page to confirm hours and access.

The exhibition is free and currently restricted to the following current Stanford ID cardholders: students, post-docs, professors (including emeriti), academic staff, fellows, and Stanford visiting scholars. Learn about the Libraries' entry requirements and available services.

There is a virtual event planned for October 14, 2021, in conjunction with the opening of the exhibit:

Stanford Libraries invites you to a panel discussion on the subject of creative connections between R. Buckminster Fuller and his contemporaries to commemorate Stanford University Libraries’ opening of the exhibition Precession: R. Buckminster Fuller’s Creative Connections.


Thursday, October 14, 2021 

4:00 - 5:30 pm PT: Panel Discussion: R. Buckminster Fuller’s Creative Connections followed by Q&A

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required; please register here.

Eva Diaz is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History at Pratt. Her teaching and scholarship are informed by historical and contemporary interdisciplinary collaborations between artists and other cultural producers. She has written extensively on Black Mountain College and R. Buckminster Fuller.

Dakin Hart is Senior Curator at The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, New York. He has extensive experience in both nonprofit arts administration and curatorial work, having worked with or for the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the Montalvo Arts Center, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and Gagosian Gallery among others.

Daniel López-Pérez is an Associate Professor of Architecture and a founding faculty member of the Architecture Program at the University of San Diego. In addition to other honors, López-Pérez was awarded a Barr Ferree Foundation Publication Grant from Princeton University to author R. Buckminster Fuller, Pattern-Thinking (Lars Müller Publishers, 2020). It provides a major contextual reassessment of Fuller’s legacy by investigating his unique design process and redefines our understanding of the relationships between geometry, structure, language, and intellectual property.

Fred Turner is Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication at Stanford University and Professor by courtesy appointment in the Departments of History and Art & Art History. An award-winning author and former journalist, his research and writing explore media, technology, and American cultural history.


Hsiao-Yun Chu is a Professor of Design at San Francisco State University and former Assistant Curator of the R. Buckminster Fuller Collection at Stanford University Libraries. Her research work investigates the role and meaning of nature in Fuller’s work, among other topics. She was the guest curator for the current exhibition on Precession.

Robert G. Trujillo is Associate University Librarian and Director of Special Collections at Stanford University Libraries. Among many other accomplishments, he championed the acquisition of the R. Buckminster Fuller Collection, the Ruth Asawa Collection, the Herbert Matter Collection, and the World Game Collection, all of which are featured in the current exhibition.

This talk is hosted by the Stanford Libraries Department of Special Collections.