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Busch Reisinger Museum
Harvard University

32 Quincy Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Phone: 617 495 9400 -- (617) 495-2397

Statement of Purpose:

Central and Northern European art.

Highlights & Collections:

The Harvard University Art Museums

The Harvard University Art Museums comprise the Fogg Art Museum (founded in 1891, opened in 1895), the Busch-Reisinger Museum (founded in 1902, now housed in Werner Otto Hall), and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum (opened in 1985). The Straus Center for Conservation is located in the Fogg. Through their collections and professional practice programs, as well as a wide array of special exhibitions, scholarly programming and publications, loans, and educational initiatives and programs, the Art Museums serve Harvard University as a catalyst for instruction and scholarship, as a training ground for future academic art historians and museum professionals, and as a general resource for its diverse and growing national and international audiences.

The collections of the Art Museums consist of more than 150,000 objects in all media, with works ranging from antiquity to the present and from Europe, North America, North Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. The collections are divided among ten curatorial areas (Ancient Art; Architecture and Design; Asian Art; Busch-Reisinger Museum; Drawings; Islamic and Later Indian Art; Modern and Contemporary Art; Paintings, Sculpture and Decorative Arts; Prints; and Photographs) and are comprehensive within their areas. Developed with an emphasis on their value for teaching and research, these holdings are a unique resource in terms of breadth and quality, and are enhanced continually through gifts and acquisitions. Together, they comprise one of the finest university art collections in the world, with resources rivaling those of many major public museums.



Design~Recline: Modern Architecture and the Mid-Century Chaise Longue Features Works Designed by Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Alvar Aalto, and Charles and Ray Eames

The chaise longue flourished in the modern period as it was appropriated by architects such as Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Alvar Aalto, and Charles and Ray Eames and reworked as a new solution for modern living. With the advent of the open plan, in which living rooms and dining rooms flowed into one another, the chaise longue’s flexibility and portability permitted its use in multiple spaces both indoors and out. In their pursuit of healthful living, inhabitants of new homes could recline on chaise longues in the open air and sun on their own flat roof decks and terraces.

“The Art Museums thrive on the creativity of students from across the Harvard campus who use our facilities to collaborate on research and to exhibit their findings to a larger scholarly audience,” said Thomas Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard University Art Museums. “Design~Recline’s focused review of the chaise longue at mid-century and its relationship to concepts of modern architecture is yet one more example of the benefits students receive with University collaborations which further support the importance of our teaching and research mission.”

Works in the exhibition are diverse in both appearance and historical significance. Included are such rarely displayed chairs as Marcel Breuer’s Chaise Longue, No. 313, designed in 1932 with aluminum and beech wood; Bruno Mathsson’s Pernilla Chaise Longue, designed in 1944 with beech wood and canvas webbing; and Alvar and Aino Aalto’s “39” Chaise Longue, designed in 1936–37 with birch plywood and cotton webbing.

The two works that were purchased for the exhibition and on which visitors are encouraged to recline are Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand’s Chaise Longue, designed in 1928 (this example was manufactured in 2003) with chromed tubular steel, lacquered steel, polyurethane, and cowhide, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Chaise Longue, designed in 1931 (this example was manufactured in 2003) with tubular steel, cowhide, and leather.

Design~Recline is organized by Robin Schuldenfrei, Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, and Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Intern in the Busch-Reisinger Museum. According to Schuldenfrei, “For modern architects, the design and production of furniture formed the link between ideology and the reality of a new mode of living. For example, Le Corbusier, who famously referred to the house as a ‘machine for living in,’ also thought of furniture in functional terms, calling the chaise longue a ‘machine for rest.’ Through the juxtaposition of the chaise longue with large-scale murals depicting modern architecture this exhibition presents a way of examining the relationship between different manifestations of modernism.”

Modern architects did not invent the chaise longue, which has existed since at least the 16th century in France. The chairs were popular in England and America in the early 19th century, particularly in the 1830s. The defining characteristics are its length, its canted back, and support for the legs. Unlike the daybed, recamier, or Greek sofa, which were intended for lounging on one’s side, the chaise longue is designed for lying on one’s back.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a complimentary 12-page color brochure, with an essay by Schuldenfrei and 18 photographs. The essay introduces and situates the chaise longues in an architectural context and discusses the contradictory assumptions of architecture’s modern movement.

About the Harvard University Art Museums 
The Harvard University Art Museums are one of the world’s leading arts institutions, with the Arthur M. Sackler, Busch-Reisinger, and Fogg art museums, the Straus Center for Conservation, and the U.S. headquarters for the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, an excavation project in western Turkey.

The Harvard University Art Museums are distinguished by the range and depth of their collections, their groundbreaking exhibitions, and the original research of their staff. As an integral part of the Harvard community, the three art museums serve as resources for all students, adding a special dimension to their areas of study. The public is welcome to experience the collections and exhibitions as well as to enjoy lectures, symposia, and other programs.
For more than a century, the Harvard University Art Museums have been the nation’s premier training ground for museum professionals and scholars and are renowned for their role in the development of the discipline of art history in this country.

Location and Hours
The Fogg Art Museum and the Busch-Reisinger Museum are located at 32 Quincy Street in Cambridge. The Arthur M. Sackler Museum is located next door at 485 Broadway. Each Museum is a short walk from the Harvard Square MBTA station.

Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 1 – 5 p.m.; the Museums are closed on national holidays. Admission is $6.50; $5 for seniors; $5 for students; and free for those under 18 years of age. The Museums are free to everyone on Saturday mornings, 10 a.m. – noon. The Harvard University Art Museums receive support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. More detailed information is available at 617-495-9400 or on the Internet at


Scholarly Programming

The Harvard University Art Museums are organizing an extensive series of gallery talks to accompany Hanne Darboven: Works 1969/1972/1983. On Saturday, October 23, the Busch-Reisinger Museum will offer a day of lectures on the theme: "Picturing History in the German Tradition: New Thinking on Hanne Darboven and Her Contemporaries." The Busch-Reisinger Museum will also enable visitors to explore other aspects of Darboven's artistic talent. In collaboration with the Harvard Film Archive, the Busch-Reisinger Museum will sponsor a show of two of Darboven's own films The Year 1968 in 6 Books in 6 Films of 1969 and The Moon is Risen of 1983. Also in conjunction with this exhibition, the Film Archive will show Rainer Werner Fassbinder's internationally acclaimed film, The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978). A fully illustrated gallery guide will be published to accompany the exhibition.

The Busch-Reisinger Museum

The Busch-Reisinger Museum was founded in 1902 to reinforce the study of Germanic culture at Harvard University. Over the last ninety-six years, the Busch-Reisinger Museum and its collections have evolved and become a leading repository for the study of the art of the German-speaking countries. The Busch-Reisinger Museum's rich collection consists of works from all periods, from the Middle Ages through the present, in a full range of media. The Museum is housed in Werner Otto Hall, accessible through the Fogg Art Museum. Providing a rich resource for scholars at Harvard and beyond, the Busch-Reisinger Museum is dedicated to promoting the critical understanding and enjoyment of the arts of German-speaking and related cultures of Central and Northern Europe.


For general information, please call (617) 495-9400. All groups of 8 or more must be scheduled in advance, please call (617) 496-8576. Web site: The Harvard University Art Museums is supported in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


Harvard University Art Museums

Key Personnel:

Marjorie B. Cohn, acting director of the Harvard University Art Museums

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