Modernist architect based in New York City, 1929-1950, and professor of architecture at the University of Michigan, 1950-1972, where he also carried on an active private practice until shortly before his death in 1990. A graduate of MIT, Muschenheim studied further with Peter Behrens at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and was strongly influenced both by a visit to the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany and by a period working in urban planning with Peter Korn in Berlin. Two major Muschenheim collections exist, one within the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University and another within the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. The Muschenheim collection at the Avery represents primarily his professional career from 1929 to 1957, and the Muschenheim collection at the Bentley concerns his later professional practice and teaching career at the University of Michigan, as of 1950. This finding aid describes both the Avery and Bentley collections.
Staffs of the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library and the Bentley Historical Library have prepared separate finding aids for their respective William Muschenheim collections. These have been merged to provide one integrated finding aid. This integrated finding aid lists all Muschenheim materials held by both repositories. All of the drawings, papers, photographs and other materials for each project are brought together in a single job-number/chronological sequence. The physical location of each item/folder is indicated by "A" for Avery and "B" for Bentley. The combined finding aid organizes the Muschenheim papers into four series:
- Biographical and Professional Material [Bentley]
- University of Michigan Teaching Career [Bentley]
- Publications and research [Bentley]
- Project Files [Avery and Bentley]
The project files of William Muschenheim are described according to Muschenheim's original filing system in which he interfiled the drawings, correspondence, specifications, and other papers for each job/client. Muschenheim typically assigned each client a single job number no matter how many projects he may have done for the client. There are a total of 130 numbered jobs in the Avery Collection (#1-130, with gaps between jobs 11-17, 25-26, 28-29) and 63 numbered jobs in the Bentley collection (#132-193, there are no materials for 22 of the jobs). There are also nine unnumbered projects (4 Avery and 5 Bentley) and several folders of miscellaneous material.
Each numbered job consists of one or more projects and each project is subdivided by format of material into Drawings, Papers, Photographs, and Presentation Boards as appropriate. There is some variance in the manner in which the two archives have arranged and described project material. The Avery has described its drawings at the item level while the Bentley provides only folder level descriptions for most projects. For this finding aid item level descriptions are provided for selected Bentley projects. Photographs are found in the "Papers" in some Avery project files but are listed separately in the Bentley finding aid.
At both the Avery and Bentley the oversize architectural drawings have been removed from their original folders and stored separately.
The William Muschenheim Architectural Drawings and Papers at the Avery Library span 1929-1957, with bulk dates 1931-1950. Muschenheim's papers document 130 separate jobs, and the visual material consists of 3081 sheets of drawings. The projects mainly represent Muschenheim's work in New York City, but also include work in Albany (NY), Amenia (NY),Bridgehampton (NY), Chappaqua (NY), Hampton Bays (NY), Malverne (NY), Massapequa (NY), Nassau Point (Long Island), Washington (CT), Washington DC, Westhampton Beach (NY), and Woodstock (NY), among other locations.
William Muschenheim had numerous clients which included the following family members: Carl Muschenheim, Elsa Muschenheim, and Frederick A. Muschenheim. In addition to the many clients for whom Muschenheim did alteration work, he also worked with a wide variety of companies. Some of the companies include Bigelow Carpet Company, C.G. Flygare Inc., Excel Metal Cabinet Co., Inc., F. Schumacher & Co., Famaes Development, Hans Knoll, Howard & Schaffer, Inc., Kurt Versen Lamps, Inc., Ledlin Light Designers, Portland Cement Association, and Thonet Brothers, among many others.
The papers and drawings in the William E. Muschenheim collection at the Bentley Library span the years 1923 to 2004, however the bulk of the collection covers the years 1951 to 1985. The papers are primarily comprised of material documenting Muschenheim's research and teaching career from 1950 to 1973 at the University of Michigan, and the private practice he continued in Ann Arbor after leaving New York City. There are limited papers and drawings related to his life and professional work prior to 1950, although the Photographs Series includes beautiful black and white images of many of his important New York projects, and the Publications and Research Series is valuable for articles published in the thirties and the forties showcasing his work. Papers and drawings spanning the years 1929-1957 (bulk dates 1931-1950) are held at the Avery Library, Columbia University.
Muschenheim's early and lasting commitment to the modern movement and to an international view of architecture and architectural education is reflected in the collection, which consists of biographical and professional materials, research and course materials, publications related to his work, project files and drawings, and photographs and slides. The Muschenheim collection will interest researchers drawn to study the work of a pioneering modernist, well known for originality in working with color as an integral part of contemporary design, and those interested in the generation of architects involved in the fifties and sixties with legitimizing the modern period in an academic environment. Additionally, Muschenheim's efforts to illuminate the art of architecture as an important element and expression of culture to a broader segment of society renders the collection important to a wide range of disciplines and interests.
The papers are largely organized according to Muschenheim's original filing scheme, in which he interfiled material related to projects (including drawings) with professional papers, correspondence, and other documents, numbering them sequentially. The Bentley Library collection consists of material numbered 132 to 192. Many large original drawings were removed from folders, flattened, and are stored in drawers. Five series make up the collection: Biographical and Professional Materials; University of Michigan Teaching Career, College of Architecture and Design; Publications and Research; Project Files; and Digitization Project. Users should note that material related to a single project is often scattered throughout the collection. A Supplemental Guide to work produced after 1950 in the additional descriptive data portion of this finding aid. Also appended is Muschenheim's list of projects (numbered 1-189).