When the Museum was founded it was proposed that standards be defined and history written for architecture and design as well as for painting and sculpture. The Museum, through its Department of Architecture and Design, is indeed the principal institution in the world concerned with the qualitative selection and collection of modern architectural, industrial and graphic design.
The Department's first show at the Museum, held in 1932, was an international exhibition of modern architecture. Through photographs and models it showed the extraordinary revolution that had occurred in architecture, especially during the previous decade, but there was, of course, no way to "collect" the buildings themselves. The Department therefore established a photographic file which formed at that time the most comprehensive documentation of modern architecture. Scale models provided another means of representing buildings, and have been an important part of the Department's collection since its beginning. Of greater intrinsic and esthetic value is a group of drawings by architects.
Since it was founded, the Department has held exhibitions devoted to the work of individual architects, as well as a series of exhibitions concerned with the qualitative selection of contemporary American architecture. Two, called "Built in U.S.A.," covered respectively the periods 1932-1944 and 1946-1952. The second of these exhibitions included presentation of buildings by means of three-dimensional color slides, which have since been incorporated into the Department's collection of architectural photographs.
In the past twenty-two years single buildings of technical or esthetic importance have been shown in models and photographs, such as Frederick Kiesler's Endless House, Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Dome, Paul Nelson's Suspended House, Frank Lloyd Wright's Loeb House and Johnson Wax Company office buildings, Mies van der Rohe's Chicago apartment houses, and Konrad Wachsman's steel airplane hangar. Many other exhibitions have been devoted to aspects of modern architecture as diversified as buildings commissioned by the U.S. Department of State, and two complete houses -- the first by Marcel Breuer and the second by Gregory Ain -- built in successive years in the Museum's garden to provide a full-scale demonstration of some of the planning features and furnishings characteristic of modern American architecture.
The plans of the Department had from the beginning (although it was called at first simply the "Department of Architecture") involved the related arts which in scale extend all the way from teaspoons to town planning. Furniture design in the twentieth century has been particularly influenced by architecture, much of the most beautiful modern furniture having been, in fact, designed by architects. The Department has formed a highly selective collection of furniture, including examples of the Art Nouveau of about 1900, important as the first style to break completely with historical revivalism. Unfortu continued on page 216