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COLLECTION Identifier: BRM 5

Records of the Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1819-2011


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 The collection includes scrapbooks, postcards, photographs and slides, audiovisual materials, administrative and historical documents, and published materials.


  • 1819-2011

Language of Materials

Collection materials are mostly in German and English, but also include some materials in Swedish, Dutch, and Italian.

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.


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)
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.

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:
  1. Series I. Scrapbooks
  2. ___Subseries A: Busch-Reisinger General History Scrapbooks
  3. ___Subseries B: Event Scrapbooks
  4. ___Subseries C: Museum Exhibition Scrapbooks
  5. Series II. Visual Materials
  6. ___Subseries A: Photographs
  7. ___Subseries B: Postcards
  8. ___Subseries C: Glass and Film Negatives
  9. ___Subseries D: Slides
  10. Series III. Audiovisual Materials
  11. Series IV. Administrative & General History Files
  12. ___Subseries A: Administrative Records and Correspondence
  13. ___Subseries B: General History
  14. ___Subseries C: Kuno Francke and Charles L. Kuhn Materials
  15. Series V. Publications & Periodicals
  16. ___Subseries A: Historical Articles, Periodicals, and Published Materials
  17. ___Subseries B: Miscellaneous Museum Publications
  18. ___Subseries C: Exhibition Catalogues
  19. ___Subseries D: Related Reference and Scholarship Materials

Immediate Source of Acquisition

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

Related Materials

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

Box and Folder Locations

  1. Box 1: Scrapbook [1906-1934]
  2. Box 2: Scrapbook [1934-1936]
  3. Box 3: Scrapbook [1937-1941]
  4. Box 4: Scrapbook [1941-1951]
  5. Box 5: Scrapbook [1951-1952]
  6. Box 6: Scrapbook [1952-1955]
  7. Box 7: Scrapbook [1955-1958]
  8. Box 8: Scrapbook [1958-1960]
  9. Box 9: Scrapbook [1960-1962]
  10. Box 10: Scrapbook [1962-1966]
  11. Box 11: Scrapbook [1966-1968]
  12. Box 12: Scrapbook [1968-1970]
  13. Box 13: Scrapbook [1970-1971]
  14. Box 14: Scrapbook [1971-1972]
  15. Box 15: Scrapbook [1972-1973]
  16. Box 16: Scrapbook [1973-1974]
  17. Box 17: Scrapbook [1974-1975]
  18. Box 18: Scrapbook [1976-1980]
  19. Box 19: Scrapbook [1980-1985]
  20. Box 20: Scrapbook [1986-1990]
  21. Box 21: Folders 21-32
  22. Box 22: Das Goldene Buch ("The Golden Book") [1925]
  23. Box 23: Germanic Museum Founding Book [n.d.]
  24. Box 24: Scrapbook [1982-1983]
  25. Box 25: Scrapbook [1982]
  26. Box 26: Folders 37-66
  27. Box 27: Folders 67-96
  28. Box 28: Folders 97-121
  29. Box 29: Folders 122-126
  30. Box 30: Folder 127
  31. Box 31: Folders 128-146
  32. Box 54: Folder 485
  33. Box 33: Folders 161-223
  34. Box 34: Folders 224-257
  35. Box 35: Folders 258-289
  36. Box 36: Folders 290-332
  37. Box 37: Folders 333-345
  38. Box 38: Folders 346-358
  39. Box 39: Folders 359-365
  40. Box 40: Folders 366-369, 371-375, 377-385
  41. Box 41: Folders 386-389
  42. Box 42: Folders 390, 392-405
  43. Box 43: Folders 407-425
  44. Box 44: Folders 426-428, 430-448
  45. Box 45: Folders 449-454
  46. Box 46: Folders 455-471
  47. Box 47: Folders 370, 376, 391, 406, 429
  48. Box 48: Folders 472, 482, 579
  49. Box 49: Folders 473-481, 483-485
  50. Box 50: Folders 486-536
  51. Box 51: Folders 537-570
  52. Box 52: Folders 571-578, 580-587
  53. Box 53: Folders 588-589
  1. Adolphus Busch Hall (Cambridge, Mass.)
  2. Barlach, Ernst, 1870-1938
  3. Bauhaus
  4. Beckmann, Max, 1884-1950
  5. Busch-Reisinger Museum.
  6. Busch-Reisinger Museum -- Buildings
  7. Busch-Reisinger Museums -- Exhibitions
  8. Busch-Reisinger Museum -- History
  9. Feininger, Lyonel, 1871-1956
  10. Francke, Kuno, 1855-1930
  11. Harvard University. Germanic Museum
  12. Harvard University -- Museums
  13. Kandinsky, Wassily, 1866-1944
  14. Klee, Paul, 1879-1940
  15. Kuhn, Charles L. (Charles Louis), 1901-
  16. Lissitzky, El, 1890-1941
  17. Nisbet, Peter
  1. Art--Collectors and collecting
  2. Art--Exhibitions
  3. Art–-Exhibitions--Catalogs
  4. Art Galleries and museums
  5. Art, Modern–-Germany
  6. Art, Modern–-United States
  7. Art Museums--Massachusetts--Cambridge--History
  8. College art museums--Massachusetts--Cambridge
  9. Museum exhibits--Germany
  10. Museum exhibits--United States
  11. Painting--Germany--20th century
  12. Painting, Modern--United States--20th century
Form/Genre Terms
  1. Clippings
  2. Correspondence
  3. Essays
  4. Exhibition catalogues
  5. Photographs
  6. Printed ephemera
  7. Scrapbooks

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.
Link to catalog
Records of the Busch-Reisinger Museum (BRM 5), 1819-2011: A Guide
Busch-Reisinger Museum

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Art Museums Archives Repository

The Harvard Art Museums Archives is the official repository for institutional records and historical documents in all formats relating to the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 1895 to the present. Its collections include significant papers of individuals and groups associated with the museums' history, as well as correspondence with collectors, gallery owners, museum professionals, and notables throughout the twentieth century. Its holdings also document the formation of the museums' collections and its mission as a teaching institution.

32 Quincy Street
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA