The Marcel Breuer Digital Archive

Posted March 25th, 2012

Architecture, Bauhaus, Collections, Design

The Marcel Breuer Digital Archive represents a collaborative effort headed by Syracuse University Library to digitize over 30,000 drawings, photographs, letters and other materials related to the career of Marcel Breuer, one of the most influential architects and furniture designers of the twentieth century. The first phase of this NEH-funded project culminates in the headquarters complex designed for UNESCO in the mid-1950s. UNESCO represents a transitional moment between the early Bauhaus-inspired designs and the monumental, sculptural concrete buildings of his later career.

Explore the Archive allows you to browse the entire collection or search by keyword and further filter the results.

Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) enjoyed a remarkable dual career as a furniture designer who created the first tubular steel chair and as an architect who helped define mid-century American modernism through projects like the exhibition house installed in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art in 1949. His design vocabulary has insinuated itself into everyday life, whether in the furniture of your doctor’s office, the rush matting offered by IKEA or the modular concrete facades of buildings found in every city in America.

In 2009, Syracuse University’s Special Collections Research Center received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to create a digital repository for Breuer’s archive, drawing largely on Syracuse’s extensive holdings but incorporating select material from a number of other archives in the United States and abroad. The material digitized from other archives is not comprehensive and researchers should consult partner institutions for more information about their holdings.

The first phase of the digital repository focuses on the early portion of Breuer’s career (up to 1955). It culminates in the headquarters for UNESCO, a project that marked the transition from Bauhaus-inspired glass houses to the monumental sculptural concrete buildings of his later career. The website is organized around projects, both built and unbuilt, and provides access to drawings, correspondence, and photographs, along with manuscripts of Breuer’s writings, office and teaching records. Each digital object is accompanied by detailed metadata derived from the original archival material.

A finding aid for Syracuse’s Breuer Papers, along with a selected bibliography, and a chronology of major events in Breuer’s life can be found in the resources section of the website.

Image from the first catalogue for “Standardmoebel”, Druckerei des Bauhauses Dessau, 1927