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Busch-Reisinger Museum. Records of the Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1819-2011: A Guide

Harvard Art Museum Archives, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University
The President and Fellows of Harvard College

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: BRM 5
Repository: Harvard Art Museum Archives, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University
Title: Records of the Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1819-2011: A Guide
Date(s): 1819-2011
Quantity: 41 linear feet (19 file boxes, 1 half file box, 6 record cartons, 19 12x15 folio boxes, 6 13x18 folio boxes, 2 4x10.75 slide boxes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are mostly in German and English, but also include some materials in Swedish, Dutch, and Italian.
Abstract: The Busch-Reisinger Museum records include historical information related to the founding and functioning of the museum, from its inception in the early 20th century and extending into the early 21st century. The collection includes scrapbooks, postcards, photographs and slides, audiovisual materials, administrative and historical documents, and published materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The records in this collection were generated and collected by the staff of the Busch-Reisinger Museum.

Processing Information:

The collection was processed from November, 2013 to December, 2013 by Olivia Mandica-Hart with assistance from Laura Muir and Megan Schwenke. Joanna Wendel performed initial processing work on the "Harvard General History" box lists in 2010. The finding aid was revised in September 2014 by Brooke McManus.

Conditions on Access:

Access: Unrestricted

Conditions on Use:

Copyright: Copyright in some papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the Harvard Art Museums Archives before publishing quotations from any material in the collection.
Copying: Papers may be copied in accordance with the Harvard Art Museums Archives' usual procedures.

Related Materials

Additional Busch-Reisinger materials are available in the Harvard Art Museums Archives.

Historical Note:

In 1897, a committee of three Harvard professors of German literature published an article titled "The Need of a Germanic Museum at Harvard." By 1903 the Germanic Museum had opened in Rogers Hall, a former gymnasium. Harvard Professor of German Literature Kuno Francke, the museum's first curator, obtained funding from the Busch and Reisinger families to build a new facility, Adolphus Busch Hall, at 29 Kirkland Street; construction was completed in 1917, and the building opened in 1921. In 1930, Charles Kuhn became curator of the Germanic Museum. It was renamed the Busch-Reisinger Museum of Germanic Culture in 1950, and the name was changed again to the Busch-Reisinger Museum of Central and Northern European Art in 1981. In 1990, the President and Fellows of Harvard College simplified the name to the Busch-Reisinger Museum. The museum moved again in 1991, this time to Werner Otto Hall at 32 Quincy Street, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates. In 2014, it reopened in a new building at the same location, designed by Renzo Piano, and which also houses the Fogg and Sackler Museums. Adolphus Busch Hall continues to house the founding collection of plaster casts of medieval art and is the venue for concerts on its world-renowned Flentrop pipe organ.
The Busch-Reisinger Museum is the only museum in North America dedicated to the study of art from the German-speaking countries of central and northern Europe in all media and in all periods. Its holdings include significant works of German and Austrian Secessionist art, German expressionism, 1920s abstraction, the Bauhaus, and noteworthy postwar and contemporary art from German-speaking Europe. Other strengths include late medieval sculpture and 18th-century art.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

The papers are arranged in five series:

Scope and Content:

This collection is comprised of materials collected and created by the Busch-Reisinger Museum staff. The "Scrapbooks" series contains various scrapbooks documenting the museum's history from its founding to the early 1990s. Additionally, two of the scrapbooks relate to the museum's 1982 "20th Century Masterpieces" traveling exhibition.
The "Visual Materials" series contains historic photos, glass and film negatives, and slides depicting the museum's building and collections. Also included in this series are postcards of works from the Busch-Reisinger collection.
The "Audiovisual Materials" series contains audio recordings of the ceremonies of the Busch-Reisinger's Werner Otto Hall dedication.
The fourth series, "Administrative and General History," includes documents related to the administrative and daily functions of the Busch-Reisinger, as well as to the history and founding of the museum.
The "Publications and Periodicals" series contains published periodicals and articles that discuss the Busch-Reisinger, as well as publications generated by the museum, including exhibition catalogs, books, and pamphlets.
The documents have been re-housed into archival folders and boxes. Oversized items have been separated and housed in appropriately sized containers. The location of these items is marked in the finding aid.

Box and Folder Locations






Form/Genre Terms

Container List