For Frank Lloyd Wright acolytes, appreciating the architect’s masterpieces has long involved pilgrimages to far-flung locations. There’s always the Guggenheim, of course, but more importantly, there’s Falling Water, the Robie House, Taliesin and Taliesin West. Until recently, even looking at the architect’s papers involved a journey to the latter two locations, in Spring Green, Wis., and Scottsdale, Ariz.
But now Wright’s papers, which have been stored at the two Taliesins since his death in 1959, are moving to New York, in what The New York Times terms an unusual joint partnership between Columbia University’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library and the Museum of Modern Art.
The collection includes 23,000 architectural drawings, 44,000 photographs, more than 40 large-scale models, manuscripts and copious correspondence. Basically, Avery gets the architect’s papers—which will be available for public viewing after the library completes the acquisitions process—and MoMA gets the models.
Best of all, besides the considerable costs of moving, preserving and storing the collection, Columbia and MoMA get the collection for free. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation will continue to monitor the collection, but New York will be its permanent home.
“It’s just astounding as primary source material,” Avery director Carole Ann Fabian told The Times. “I keep thinking of it as a national treasure.”
Meanwhile, the museum gushed in its statement that “At MoMA, Frank Lloyd Wright’s work will be in conversation with great modern artists and architects such as Picasso, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier.” Of course, Wright either is or isn’t in conversations with other great modern artists and architects wherever his models and drawings are stored, but we suppose that conversation will be easier to hear at MoMA?
So when can we see these treasures? Wright’s papers will be available for viewing at Avery around the end of next year; as for his models and mock-ups, they’ll only be coming out for special exhibits and displays. In the meantime, the Architect’s Newspaper provides a nice sneak peek of what we can expect to see with a slideshow and video.