Harvard Art Museums’ digital Bauhaus archive showcases key GSD figures, provides unparalleled resource for scholars

Marianne Brandt, Untitled [with Anna May Wong], 1929 / photo via Harvard Art Museums, © President and Fellows of Harvard College

2019 will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, the influential German school of art, design, and innovation. Ahead of this centennial, the Harvard Art Museums have launched a rich digital archive that Boston magazine calls a “Bauhaus dreamland for the Internet.”

Photograph of Walter Gropius's Study, looking into the Living Room, Gropius House, Lincoln, Massachusetts, n.d. Walter Gropius Papers, Harvard Art Museums Archives
Photograph of Walter Gropius’s Study, looking into the Living Room, Gropius House, Lincoln, Massachusetts, n.d. Walter Gropius Papers, Harvard Art Museums Archives

Revealed last week, The Bauhaus Special Collection indexes the more than 32,000 works and items—photographs, textiles, paintings, periodicals, and other curiosities—that comprise the museums’ Bauhaus-related archives, among the world’s first and largest such collections. The Bauhaus Special Collection thus provides an unparalleled resource for scholars and the public. It also illuminates the rich connections between Bauhaus and Harvard.

“Perhaps more than any site outside Germany, the history of the Bauhaus is linked intimately with the history of Harvard,” writes Robert Wiesenberger, the Stefan Engelhorn Curatorial Fellow at the HAM’s Busch-Reisinger Museum, who conceived and edited The Bauhaus Special Collection. “Both during and after the school’s brief existence in Europe, Harvard was a key site for the reception, documentation, and dissemination of Bauhaus ideas, in America and beyond, through the work of its students, museum curators, and émigré faculty.”

Josef Albers Teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum
Josef Albers Teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum

Among these Harvard connections, Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius chaired the Graduate School of Design’s architecture department from 1937 until 1952, bringing Marcel Breuer to the GSD faculty. (A collection of Gropuis’ ties sits in the GSD’s Frances Loeb Library.) Harvard was also the first location in the United States to play host to a Bauhaus exhibition, organized by Harvard undergraduates in 1930.

Gropius founded the Bauhaus in 1919 seeking, among other ideals, to bridge the gap between art and industry. A total of three Bauhaus schools operated in Germany until their closing in 1933. The movement encouraged collaboration across creative disciplines and an embrace of craftsmanship and simplicity.

The Bauhaus Special Collection offers a preview of what will be a major program across Harvard’s campus to come in 2019.

See The Bauhaus Special Collection for yourself.