Category Archives: Avery Classics Collection

Avery in PBS series “The Rise and Fall of Penn Station”

Avery Library's photographs of McKim, Mead, and White's former Pennsylvania Station building are featured in the latest installment of the American Experience, a PBS series. This installment, entitled  "The Rise and Fall of Penn Station", includes photographs documenting the construction of the station that are now in the Avery Classics collection.

These photographs are now also available on the program's interactive Engineering Map of America, a crowd-sourced project that documents historical engineering projects across the country. The program itself is also available to watch online (

Katzenbach & Warren, Inc wallcovering trade catalog

Although it is only February, Avery Classics is already looking ahead to the spring New Acquisitions show.

This year's event will include a recently acquired trade catalog from the home design firm of Katzenbach & Warren, Inc. Issued in 1949, Mural Scrolls presents a series of wall coverings designed by Calder, Matisse, Matta, and Miro and offered for sale in limited editions.

This catalog joins another rare Katzenbach & Warren item in Avery Classics, a book designer's mock-up for an unpublished description of the designers' apartments:

Avery in Grolier Club Exhibition

Selling the Dwelling: The Books that Built America's Houses

The Grolier Club
December 11, 2013-February 8, 2014

Avery Classics and Drawings & Archives have contributed to the Grolier Club's exhibition on the history of the American Dream of home ownership. Over 200 rare books, periodicals, drawings, periodicals, and printed ephemera will show how the idea of “A Home for All” was marketed in the United States, first through eighteenth-century builder’s guides, then by nineteenth-century pattern books, and finally by twentieth-century house plan catalogues.

Exhibition website

Image credit: Samuel Newsom, Picturesque California Homes no. 2, San Francisco: S. & J.C. Newsom, [1887?]. Avery Classics AT290 N478 1887. Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Avery Classics in Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis

Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis
Philadelphia Museum of Art

October 14, 2013-January 5, 2014

This fall's special exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis offers a multi-media exploration of the career of French modernist Fernand Léger (1881-1955). Curated by Anna Vallye, a postdoctoral fellow at the museum and an alumna of Columbia's Art History & Archaeology Ph.D. program, the show brings together paintings, films, architectural models, and other designs by the artist to offer new insight into his engagement with urban environments. Avery Classics loaned many items to the show, which will travel to the Museo Correr in Venice this January. These loans included ten plates from L'Architecture Vivante, the avant-garde architectural serial edited by Jean Badovici that was published in Paris throughout the 1920s and early 1930s. Classics also loaned an issue of the magazine L'Esprit Nouveau and the catalog from Friedrich Kiesler's Internationale Ausstellung neuer Theatertechnik exhibition in Vienna in 1924.

Exhibition website

Image Credit: Fernand Léger. Fresco design for a music hall (left) and Exterior fresco design for a hotel (right). Plate 9 from L'Architecture Vivante, Fall/Winter 1924. Avery Classics AB Ar433. Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Avery Welcomes Soane’s Museum Foundation

Avery welcomed members of the Sir John Soane's Museum Foundation to a display of Selections: Avery Special Collections.

The October 30th evening exhibit and reception showcased highlights from Avery Classics (rare books) and Avery Drawings & Archives. The program included remarks by Carole Ann Fabian (Director) and Curators Carolyn Yerkes and Janet Parks.   More

Avery Library and MoMA were recently honored  at the Sir John Soane's Museum Foundation gala for their co-acquisition of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives. The Soane's gala and Avery's Selections mark the beginning of a series of programs and events aimed at strengthening connections between these two architecturally-focused organizations.

Upcoming special events
Upcoming exhibitions

Tom Kligerman blog post
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Piranesi Day 2013

Avery's annual exhibition of prints, drawings, and books by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) was held this year on Thursday, September 26, from 4:00pm-5:30pm. It combined favorites like the rare first and second states of the Carceri series with a selection of highlights on this year's special theme: infrastructure.

Held in the Wallach Seminar Room and in the Drawings and Archives reading room, this event was organized to coincide with GSAPP professor Mary McLeod's survey on the History of Architecture.

Exhibition webpage

Reception & Display of Recent Acquisitions

Please join us to view highlights of Avery's acquisitions this year including a selection of works by Hugh Ferriss, Frank Lloyd Wright, John Russell Pope and others.

Monday, May 20, 2013
Display: 3:00-8:00 PM
Reception: 5:30-8:00 PM

Sponsored by Avery Friends & the Friends of the Columbia University Libraries

To RSVP, please call 212.854.6199
or email: Avery-Friends

Image credit:
Frank Lloyd Wright. Cottage Studio for Ayn Rand (1947).
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives
(The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University)

Avery in MoMA’s Labrouste show

Avery Library is pleased to have contributed a wide selection of architectural materials to Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light, which is opening at the Museum of Modern Art on March 10. Organized by Barry Bergdoll, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art; Corinne Bélier, chief curator, Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine; and Marc Le Cœur, art historian, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Estampes et de la photographie, this is the first monographic exhibition of the nineteenth-century French architect's work to open in the United States.

Avery items featured in the Labrouste show include several drawings and books, a periodical, a photograph, and a manuscript album–a list that highlights the range of material types found within the library's special collections. Avery's Drawings & Archives department loaned original works by Louis Sullivan and Detlef Lienau, as well as a photograph of Henry Hornbostel's State Education Building in Albany, New York, that is located in the Guastavino/Collins Archive. In addition to printed books, the Avery Classics department loaned an album made by students at the Academie de France in Rome in 1828. Dedicated to their teacher Pierre Guerin, the students' album includes this important early watercolor by Labrouste that is highlighted in the opening section of the show.


Image Credit: Henri Labrouste, "Les trois autels," in the album A Pierre Guerin, Avery Classics collection, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library (AA2319 R66383)



CLIR Hidden Collections Grant for American View Books

Columbia University Libraries /Information Services is pleased to announce the receipt of a CLIR Hidden Collections grant to support cataloging of the unique and extensive collection of American View Books in the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library.

Avery’s American View Books Collection provides pictorial documentation of cities and towns throughout the United States. The collection is comprised of 4,800 items published in a variety of formats, including printed books, photographic albums, and novelties. Together, these items present an evolving illustrated history of the American-built environment from the mid-nineteenth century to the twentieth century.

“The view books present a sweeping view of the changing American landscape. The images chart the growth of rural areas into towns and cities, the advance of the railroads across the country, and the rising popularity of county fairs and national expositions,” said Carole Ann Fabian, Director of the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library. “The primary achievement of the view book is the documentation of architecture and urbanism in an expanding American landscape.”

 Hundreds of thousands of images of buildings, streetscapes, monuments, and parklands from every state provide historical snapshots of the evolution of the nation. In addition, accompanying detailed texts describe the growth of local industries, the construction of major buildings, the development of transportation networks, and the characteristics of regional architectural styles. Many of the buildings pictured are shown from different points of view or before and after alterations.

 "The type of publication that will be cataloged under this grant is of immense interest to all those who study American architecture, urban history, and cultural history and for those who work in historic preservation and planning,” said David Brownlee, Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor and Chair of the Graduate Group for History of Art & Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.  “We are on the verge of being able to recreate and tell the stories of our cities with unprecedented detail and accuracy."

 The $75,500 grant will support a major bibliographic goal: to define and produce a highly descriptive cataloging template for this document type that includes not only standardized format and subject headings, but also significant geographical data within the MARC format. This mix of topics, named persons, dates, and locations will provide multiple levels of access to users across a broad range of educational and experiential levels.

Press release

Image credit: Historic Yorktown Virginia. (Yorktown: J.S. DeNeufville, 19–)

Grand Central Terminal/Warren & Wetmore

In last Sunday's New York Times, an article by Sam Roberts celebrating the centennial of Grand Central Terminal featured images from the Warren & Wetmore collection  in Avery Drawings and Archives:

Warren & Wetmore designed the terminal jointly with Reed & Stem. In addition to architectural drawings and papers, Avery Library also has the firm's office safe, which is now installed in the Avery Classics reading room.