Wait, Architecture Was Once A Competition in the OLYMPICS?!?

First modern Olympic stadium for the 1896 Games in Athens by VangelisB (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Over the course of the first 40 years of the modern Olympic Games, at least 150 medals were awarded to participants in the categories/competitions of sculptures, painting, literature, music, and (yes) architecture. After he resurrected the modern games after the demise of the original Olympic games and establishing the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Baron Pierre de Coubertin opined and strongly supported the stance that art be an important part of the competition. To be in medal contention however, every submission in those varied artistic field were REQUIRED to be sports-related.

Rugby drawing by Jean Jacoby, the only person to win two arts-related gold medals

In the 1920s, the arts competitions in the Games evolved, the organizers added new subdivisions the aforementioned five categories:

  • “Sculpture” was divided into “Statues” and “Reliefs and Medallions”
  • “Painting” added “Drawing” and “Graphic Works”
  • “Literature” was also divided into “Lyric Works,” “Epic Works” and “Dramatic Works”
  • “Music” became three categories, “Song,” “Orchestra” and “Single Instrument”
  • “Architecture” added “Town Planning”
Timekeeping pavilion by Guglielmo Giuliano, submitted to the 1936 Berlin Olympics
An American Trotter, medal-winning statue by Walter W. Winans

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