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University Archives and Special Collections: Institute of Design

Use this guide to help you navigate the archives finding aid portal.


In 1937, László Moholy-Nagy, an instructor at the Bauhaus art and design school in Germany, founded the New Bauhaus in Chicago at the remodeled former Marshall Field mansion at 1905 South Prairie Avenue, under the sponsorship of the Association of Arts and Industries. Moholy-Nagy championed Bauhaus methods and principles in his students’ paintings, photographs, sculptures, photograms, and films as well as in his own work, including professional design commissions for private industry and government. The New Bauhaus: American School of Design closed a year later due to a lack of funding, but in February 1939, Moholy-Nagy opened his own school, the School of Design in Chicago. The first of its several downtown locations was at 247 East Ontario Street.

In November 1946, Moholy-Nagy died of leukemia and was succeeded as director by the architect Serge Chermayeff. Vision in Motion, the definitive statement of Moholy's educational philosophy, was published posthumously in 1947. In 1949, the Institute of Design merged with Illinois Institute of Technology and the school initially remained downtown. In 1956, it moved into S. R. Crown Hall, the building Mies van der Rohe had designed for IIT's architecture program, which he headed. The Institute of Design returned to downtown Chicago in 1996, where it remained until 2018, when ID moved back to the Mies campus.


The Institute of Design collections held by the University Archives and Special Collections contain a variety of materials which reflect the history of the school since its founding in 1937. They include academic catalogues, class and school activities announcements, biographical materials, student work, exhibit catalogues, announcements of student and alumni professional activities, essays, speeches, periodical articles, photographs, scrapbooks and news clippings by and about the school and its members. Materials found within the Institute of Design collections pertain to institutional history; with few exceptions, University Archives and Special Collections does not hold the personal papers or creative output of former faculty of the Institute of Design or its predecessor schools.


The Institute of Design collections are used for the study of the curriculum, pedagogy, classroom environment, student work, and institutional records of the New Bauhaus, School of Design and the Institute of Design. Researchers interested in the history of the New Bauhaus and School of Design should consult the Institute of Design records, 1937-ca. 1955. Researchers interested in the history of the Institute of Design since its merging with IIT in 1949 should consult the Institute of Design records, 1948-2001, which include student theses, course material, teaching materials, faculty scholarship, institutional records, photographs, exhibits and awards. Researchers interested in Institute of Design student and alumni records should consult the Institute of Design records, ca. 1960-1990.