Lectures will be held at 2.30pm for a 2.45pm start.


Mary Alexander

Meet me at the Waldorf: the extraordinary story of two iconic hotels built on Astor feuds, fortunes and art patronage

Immortalised in Cole Porter’s lyrics ‘You’re the top! You’re a Waldorf salad’, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel was ‘home in New York to the stars’, international celebrities and world leaders. Built at the height of the Depression and famous before it opened, its glittering Jazz Age interiors were created by leading European designers, artists and sculptors. We will explore the intriguing story of the hotel’s equally iconic predecessor on Fifth Avenue, in its heyday the place to meet and be seen, where high society paraded in the latest Parisian fashions in Peacock Alley, and where business tycoons and acquisitive art collectors such as J P Morgan and Henry Clay Frick met to ‘do deals’ in finance or art, before it was demolished in 1929. This lecture recreates the stunning interiors of both hotels, the personalities who created them, and the stars who met, feasted and lived there.

Mary Alexander has thirty years’ experience as a lecturer, with a BA in History and History of Art and a MA with distinction in History of Art from University College London. Her experience includes public lectures in museums, tutoring for the Open University, as visiting lecturer at Christie’s Education in London, museum curator at Platt Hall, the Gallery of Costume, Manchester. Now, Mary is a freelance lecturer to various arts, heritage and antiquarian societies. She has also worked in the Pentagram design consultancy in London and New York, organising conferences and special events. Mary is the author of various articles on design and visual awareness issues and her background combines an unusual blend of academic and visual communications skills. She lectured for ADFAS Australia and New Zealand.