Asheville, NC: Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center

Visit: Met with Alice Sebrell, the Program Director for the Museum. While the College is no longer operating (it began in 1933 and closed in 1957) it's influence on the development of arts education continues to be studied to this day. To quote their website:

"The founders of the College believed that the study and practice of art were indispensable aspects of a student's general liberal arts education, and they hired Josef Albers to be the first art teacher. Speaking not a word of English, he and his wife Anni left the turmoil in Hitler's Germany and crossed the Atlantic Ocean by boat to teach art at this small, rebellious college in the mountains of North Carolina."

The interdisciplinary nature of teaching at Black Mountain took shape from Bauhaus roots, and included painting, sculpture, and drawing alongside furniture design, textiles, and graphic design.

The bulk of the Black Mountain College archives are housed in Raleigh at the North Carolina State Archives - but Alice told us that they are soon to be moved to a site in East Asheville - the Western Office of Archives & History - which will house other archives relevant to the Western part of North Carolina, as well. This will put the Black Mountain College archives in easy reach of those who travel to Asheville to research.

The Museum houses primarily artwork, but they also have some primary materials (catalogs, broadsides), some correspondence, photographs and oral histories. Frederick Horowitz co-wrote a book about Josef Albers, and his research materials (which include transcriptions of interviews with Albers' students, and tape recordings) have recently been deposited with them.  Many of their primary materials probably duplicate what is held at the State Archives. They do hold some furniture in their storage area (Albers and Lawrence Kocher pieces) and in the center of the Museum gallery are two long low benches which were built by faculty and students at the College and originally were in the "Quiet House." The have some textiles which were created by Anni Albers' students (but none by Anni herself).

The State Archives also holds the research materials which were deposited by two other authors who wrote about the College: Martin Duberman and Mary Emma Harris.

The Museum has some of their materials documented in lists, but they are still in process of cataloging or registering thier holdings. They do have a reciprocity relationship with the Special Collections Department at the UNC Ashville Library (Helen Wyckle, librarian). Several of their holdings have gone there for deposit, and in return the Library has scanned them, and digitized both images and full text, placing them on the websites of the Library and the BMCMuseum.

Discoveries: They had a xerox copy of a wonderful issue of "Design" magazine, published in 1946, v. 47, no.8, which was devoted entirely to Black Mountain College, and includes articles written by Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Robert Motherwell, Alvin Lustig, Gropius, and others.

And we purchased a T-shirt, very well designed, that had, on the back, the original Black Mountain College logo designed by Josef Albers (see the image at the top of this entry).

In 2007, two students who were independantly in process of making a documentary film about BMC decided to join forces. The result was "Fully Awake" - an award-winning 60 minute documentary.