Columbia University's Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation have announced that the vast archives of Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867-1959) have been jointly acquired by the University and the Museum and will become part of their permanent collections.
The Frank Lloyd Wright archives include some 23,000 architectural drawings, 44,000 historical photographs, large-scale presentation models, manuscripts, extensive correspondence and other documents. Joint stewardship and preservation of the archives will provide new impetus for publications, exhibitions, and public programs on Wright’s work, allowing it to be displayed in the context of other great 20th century modernists. It will also maximize the visibility and research value of the collection for generations of scholars, students and the public.
"This joint acquisition of the Frank Lloyd Wright archives is extraordinary, but the true beneficiaries of this creative and historic partnership will be the students and scholars from around the world who will be able to access and use these rich Wright resources in new disciplinary contexts and through innovative technologies," Jim Neal, University Librarian and Vice President for Information Services, said.
The complete physical archives will be permanently transferred to the collections of Columbia and MoMA under a joint acquisition and stewardship agreement. Avery Library will be the repository for all paper-based archival contents. The Museum of Modern Art will house all three-dimensional works. The Archives add to Avery and MoMA's existing collections of materials by Frank Lloyd Wright.
"At Avery, Wright’s rich legacy of archival materials joins the great historic architects whose works are preserved here — from Sebastiano Serlio to Piranesi, and other key 19th and 20th century American figures," said Carole Ann Fabian, director of Columbia’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library. "Wright's archives will receive the fullest exposure for curricular uses and research-intensive interrogation by students, scholars and the interested public."
Renowned worldwide for its extensive research and special collections, the Avery collections include the world’s masterworks of architectural history from the Renaissance to the present, including ongoing acquisition of virtually every research volume issued on Wright. Students and researchers have unfettered access to our unparalleled collection of rare books and unique materials comprising more than 1.5 million drawings and archival documents.
The Avery Classics (rare book collection) includes more than 50 rare Frank Lloyd Wright editions such as Wright's personal copy of The House Beautiful, several copies of the Wasmuth Portfolio, a comprehensive collection of Wright biographies, and his autobiography signed for his son, John Lloyd Wright. Avery Drawings & Archives holds Fallingwater blueprints and archival materials from the Kaufmann family; manuscripts and drawings from John Lloyd Wright including the great Dana House rendering and the magnificent plan for the Lake Tahoe Summer Colony project, drawings of the Oak Park Studio, photographs of the home and studio; as well as a variety of Wright projects. These projects include a preliminary set of blueprints for the Guggenheim Museum, the Joseph Brewer house, the rendering of the Vosburgh house, the project for St. Mark's-in-the-Bouwerie, the Usonian house for the Auerbach family; the rendering, correspondence, photographs, and ephemera relating to the New Theater in Hartford, CT. These materials are further supported by contextual collections such as Wright’s drawings from the time he worked in Louis Sullivan’s practice; recently acquired Edgar Tafel archive (Wright's historian and hagiographer); Douglas Haskell/Architectural Forum papers on FLW; Hugh Ferriss' renderings of FLW projects done for Ferriss publications; Aaron Resnick collection containing house plans and topographical plans for Usonia to be built in Pleasantville, New York. The addition of the Wright archives deepens these existing collections of Wright materials and continues Avery's commitment to collecting the works of the world’s greatest architects as represented in the published literature, drawings, architectural photography and archival documentation.
This joint acquisition signals a ground-breaking collaboration between the two institutions to ensure long term access and preservation of the materials, at the same time providing opportunities to celebrate the collections through public programs, exhibitions and publications.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation will help guide development of the archives and provide interpretive insights on Wright’s work and life. It will continue to preserve and share Wright's National Historic Landmarks at Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona, including the historic furnishings, memorabilia and artifacts used to interpret both sites, along with large and important collections of art, furniture and artifacts that Wright created and collected over his lifetime.
Born in 1867, Frank Lloyd Wright spent more than 70 years creating designs that helped revolutionize the art and architecture of the twentieth century. In all he designed 1141 architectural works - including houses, offices, churches, schools, libraries, bridges, museums and many other building types. Of that total, 532 resulted in completed structures, 409 of which still stand. However, Wright’s pioneering creativity was not confined to architecture. He also designed furniture, fabrics, art glass, lamps, dinnerware, silver, linens and graphic arts. A prolific writer, educator and philosopher, Wright authored twenty books and countless articles and lectured throughout the United States and in Europe.
The existence of the magnificent Frank Lloyd Wright archives is the result of visionary actions and hard work by those who knew and loved Wright. During his lifetime, the architect had declined to donate portions of his work to various museums and institutions, preferring to keep together his life's work. Upon Wright's death in 1959, Mrs. Wright gathered the archive of his work at Taliesin West, thereby preserving and keeping intact the visual and textual legacy of one of history's great geniuses. It was an unprecedented action as architectural archives of such size and scope for a single architect did not exist at that time.
Wright is considered by many to be one of the 20th century's most influential architects, a figure whose iconic work helped define modernism. The American Institute of Architects, in a recent national survey, recognized him as "the greatest American architect of all time."
For more information, including a video and slideshow about the acquisition, please visit Avery's Frank LLoyd Wright web site.
For questions about the archive, please email:
Columbia's Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library is one of the most comprehensive architecture and the fine arts library collections in the world. Avery collects a full range of primary and secondary sources for the advanced study of architecture, historic preservation, art history, decorative arts, city planning, real estate, and archaeology. It contains more than 575,000 volumes including more than 40,000 rare books, and receives approximately 1,500 periodicals. Avery's Drawings and Archives collection includes 1.5 million architectural drawings and records. The Avery Library is home to the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, the only comprehensive American guide to the current literature of architecture and design. For more information, please visit: library.columbia.edu/indiv/avery.html.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.