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Building Collections at MoMA

Sketches, models and other curiosities add to a pictorial history of architecture and design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Building Collections at MoMA


April 11th, 2011

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in New York City between now and 30 May 2011, don’t miss Building Collections: Recent Acquisitions of Architecture at MoMA – a mix of long-held works and new acquisitions made by the museum’s Department of Architecture and Design.

Standouts include a drawing from Le Corbusier’s Ceci n’est pas l’architecture 1929 Buenos Aires lecture, with its nod to Magritte and large red ‘X’ scrawled over sketches of architectural styles.


‘This is not architecture, only styles, alive and magnificent in their own time; today they are nothing more than cadavers,” reads the text underneath as Le Corbusier rejects past architectural ideology and embraces new modernist thinking.

Models of Le Corbusier’s Tower of Shadows and Assembly Hall (main image) in Chandigarh, India also feature in the collection.


Le Corbusier, Tower of Shadows, India, 1957

Louis Sullivan, Bodo and Heinz Rasch, Jean Tschumi, Ant Farm, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Jean Tschumi, UN Studio, Sauerbruch Hutton, Seung H-Sang and Thom Mayne are all represented with their sketches, doodles and models.


Ant Farm, Richard Jost, Chip Lord, Doug Michels, House of the Century (Alvin and Marilyn Lubetkin House), Mo-Jo Lake, Texas East and West Elevations, 1971-1973

Jean Tschumi, Nestle HQ, Vevey, Switzerland, South facade, perspective, 1956-1957

Ben Van Berkel, Caroline Bos, Mercedez-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany, 2001-2006

Jurgen Mayer H, Mensa Karlsruhe Dining Hall, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2005-2006

The collection is a fascinating if fragmented documentation of the history of contemporary architecture, with pieces dating back to the 19th century.

“Architecture, the most public of arts, is notoriously difficult to collect and display,” say the curators Barry Bergdoll, Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, and Margot Weller, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design.

Building Collections: Recent Acquisitions of Architecture is nevertheless a great achievement in putting the history of modernism on display.


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