Though the actual German Bauhaus school technically existed for a mere 14 years, its legacy undoubtedly continues to expand and flourish. The school, active during the years of the Weimar Republic, sought to unite artists of all disciplines in a utopian goal of designing a new world. Until broken up by the Nazis in 1933, Walter Gropius’ school developed a rigorous, hands-on curriculum led by some of the world’s greatest architects, designers, graphic artists, and weavers.
After fleeing Germany, prominent Bauhaus teachers and artists fanned out across the globe—many in America. Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe became director of the School of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology; Laszlo Moholy-Nagy formed the Institute of Design in Chicago, and Josef and Anni Albers developed programs at Black Mountain College in North Carolina before Josef moved on to teach at Yale. Gropius himself ended up at Harvard, chairing the Graduate School of Design.
Over the years, Gropius, other Bauhaus masters, their students, and prominent Bauhaus-inspired artists have donated works to Harvard’s Busch-Reisinger Museum, now one of the largest Bauhaus collections in the world. The museum’s holdings—more than 32,000 paintings, textiles, photographs, and other works—are now largely accessible to the public online. Their online archive is incredibly well organized and easily searchable.
This free-to-use collection is open for public viewing in its entirety, in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus school’s founding. For those who want to start with the basics, begin with the Chronology section for a visual representation of the school’s creation and development. The massive collection also follows the legacy of the movement through works of its actual students and others associated with the discipline. Visit the guide to the archives to see just how expansive the collection is or narrow your search by individual artist, topic, medium, date, or object number. (And for those interested in specific pieces, according to the museum, “Most any object can be requested for in-person viewing the museum’s Art Study Center.”)
Start your tour here—but we recommend setting aside a few hours for browsing. You’ll need it.
All images from Harvard Art Museums.