November 13, 2009  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Tech
Bauhaus: from Weimar to the Web
Screenshot of the timeline section of the website

Screenshot of the timeline section of the Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity website

Though the contributors from our department (Digital Media) might occasionally indulge in geek speak, we wanted to offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into some of the projects and collaborations in which we are involved across the Museum and beyond.

We are particularly excited about the slew of exhibitions coming up, starting with Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity, which opens this month. For the exhibition site, we worked with Hello Design in California. We hadn’t worked with them before, but we liked their approach to content and design for the subject matter. Because the Bauhaus has been such an inspiration to so many who came after, we asked Hello what inspired them. How did they create a simple, functional site that captures the spirit of the Bauhaus?

The team at Hello Design reviews the concept designs

The team at Hello Design reviews the concept designs

Hello Design responded that by utilizing that ultimate design element—the grid—they were “able to present the artworks in a structured, systematic fashion. The user can also dynamically sort the artworks by year, workshop, or medium, while keeping the same familiar grid structure. Clean, simple lines are used throughout the site, further matching the Bauhaus style.”

Image from the concept presentation

Image from the concept presentation

Image from concept presentation

Image from the concept presentation

Certain works from the exhibition also served as inspiration during the design process:

Works of art that provided inspiration for the site design. From the upper left: …

Works of art that provided inspiration for the site design. From the upper left: Josef Albers. Gitterbild: Park (Grid Picture: Park). 1924. The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT; Josef Albers. Skyscrapers on Transparent Yellow. c. 1929. The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT; Herbert Bayer. Poster for Architektur Lichtbilder Vortrag (Slide lecture on architecture) by the architect Hans Poelzig. 1926. Collection Merrill C. Berman; Bauhaus Students and Faculty: Rudolf Baschant, Herbert Bayer, Lyonel Feininger, Paul Haberer, Dörte Helm, Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, Farkas Molnar, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schmidt, and Georg Teltscher. Twenty postcards for the 1923 Bauhaus exhibition (one of twenty). 1923. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin; László Moholy-Nagy. K VII. 1922. Tate: Purchased 1961; Herbert Bayer. Cover of Bauhaus Dessau Hochschule für Gestaltung. Prospekt (Bauhaus Dessau college of design. Prospectus). c. 1927. Collection Merrill C. Berman; Herbert Bayer. Poster for Kandinsky Jubilaums-Ausstellung zum 60. Geburtstag (Exhibition celebrating Kandinsky’s sixtieth birthday). 1926. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred H. Barr, Jr.; Herbert Bayer. Poster for Ausstellung Europäisches Kunstgewerbe (Exhibition of European decorative arts), Grassimuseum, Leipzig (March 6-August 15, 1927). 1927. Collection Merrill C. Berman

The process of choosing a design direction was pretty smooth, with everyone on the team agreeing on which of the initial options were the most appealing. What made this iteration so compelling to us was the way in which Hello came up with a design that keeps a consistent interface while allowing the visitor to change the emphasis on the content. We asked two MoMA curators, Adrian Sudhalter, Assistant Research Curator in Painting and Sculpture, and Dara Kiese, Curatorial Assistant in Architecture and Design, to comment on the site and how it fit into the planning for the exhibition. They told us, “Already when we were conceptualizing the chronology of the Bauhaus’s fourteen-year history for the exhibition catalogue, we began to think about how well suited the flexible, interactive potential of the Web would be for the presentation of information about this school—located in three cities and headed by three different directors, with its complex network of students and teachers and proliferation of artworks produced in various workshops.”

Visitors to the site can explore some 150 works from the exhibition, see biographical information, and get a sense of daily life through snapshots. There are also behind-the-scenes videos of MoMA staff putting together the exhibition itself. The site is an educational tool that presents the Bauhaus in all its complexity, but it also provides a sense of the school’s vivacious life and energy. Take a look and see if you agree.



I’ve just finished building another virtual tour for the Smithsonian, which can be seen here:

If you search on “Smithsonian Virtual Tour” you will see the previous one I built for the Natural History Museum.

You should think of adding something like this to your website.



I love it. Great job with the site and blog!

(You guys should volunteer your services to the Just saw their redesign…Mon Dieu!)

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