Collection 1880s–1940s

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Still from *Trip Through River Rouge Plant*. 1938

Trip through River Rouge Plant. 1938 586

Digital video (black and white, sound), 30:27 min. Produced by Ford Motor Company, United States, est. 1903. Courtesy Ford Motor Company

Curator, Juliet Kinchin: My name's Juliet Kinchin. I'm a former curator of architecture and design at MoMA.

Henry Ford was a key figure in the development of the automotive industries. His company, the Ford Motor Company, was established in 1907, and it really transformed the industry, not least through Ford's introduction of assembly line production. Ford's vision was to build a motor car for the great multitude, which he said he hoped would be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for, but also moderately priced.

The construction of the colossal River Rouge complex in Dearborn, Michigan, was completed in 1928. It was the largest integrated factory in the world and planned by the architect, Albert Kahn with soaring modernist buildings at its heart. It attracted a steady stream of manufacturers, architects, designers, photographers, all of whom were keen to observe and learn from this uniquely American and spectacular iteration of industrial capitalism.

At the heart of the factory's program was assembly line production, which was all about driving efficiency and boosting production capacity. It was a model of production that really influenced many other areas of industrial products from houses to clothing.

And this is partly what I think, mesmerized generation of architects, artists, photographers designers, who were very engaged in developing a machine aesthetic and really looking to the River Rouge complex as an example of the new technologies shaping the modern world.