The vast archives of the modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright—more than 23,000 architectural drawings, some 44,000 historical photographs, about 40 large-scale presentation models, 600 manuscripts, extensive correspondence and other documents—are moving to New York City to become part of the permanent collections of Columbia University and the Museum of Modern Art. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation said its decision to enter into this groundbreaking partnership, made public in early September, would ensure the archives are properly conserved and seen more widely by scholars and the public.
Items have begun arriving in New York, and the move should be completed toward the end of 2013. They are currently stored at Wright’s former homes and studios at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, which will continue to operate as museums under the foundation.
Columbia’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library will be the repository for all paper-based archival contents, including such gems as his earliest pencil sketch of the spiraling Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan and the drawings for Wright’s Fallingwater, a home cantilevered over a stream in Mill Run, Pennsylvania; the Robie House, a Prairie-style building on the University of Chicago campus; Unity Temple, a Unitarian Universalist church in Oak Park, Illinois; and Taliesin West. The Museum of Modern Art will house all three-dimensional works, among them, architectural models for such notable Wright projects as the unrealized Saint Mark’s Tower, an East Village apartment complex; Broadacre City, his utopian metropolis; Wingspread, a house near Racine, Wisconsin; and a version of the Guggenheim. Wright’s furniture and art collection will remain with the foundation.
Wright (1867-1959) spent more than 70 years creating designs that helped revolutionize the art and architecture of the 20th century. In all he designed 1,141 architectural works—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 20 books and countless articles and lectured throughout the United States and in Europe.
“We are proud to join in a collaboration aimed at bringing new insight and experience to the works of one of the truly great creative minds of the 20th century,” said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. “MoMA and Columbia form a compelling partnership among essential intellectual and cultural institutions in New York City and, together, we look forward to working with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to preserve and enhance Wright’s extraordinary legacy for generations to come.”