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René d'Harnoncourt papers, 1921-1983

D'Harnoncourt, Rene, 1901-1968

Curator, Museum director

Collection Information

Size: 2.4 linear feet

Summary: The papers of art curator, lecturer, and museum director, René d'Harnoncourt (1901-1968), document d'Harnoncourt's activities, primarily in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly as they relate to Mexican and Native American art. D'Harnoncourt's career, including his arrival in Mexico in 1925, his curation of the exhibitions, "Mexican Art" (1930-1932), and "Indian Art of the United States" (1941), and his work for the Department of the Interior's Indian Arts and Crafts Board from 1937-1944, are documented in small amounts of biographical material and correspondence, published writings, printed material, scrapbooks, photographs of d'Harnoncourt and colleagues, and photographs of works of art. The collection also contains a drawing of d'Harnoncourt, and photocopies of caricatures of d'Harnoncourt and others.

Biographical/Historical Note

Art curator, lecturer, and museum director, René d'Harnoncourt (1901-1968), was an authority on Native American art and Mexican arts and crafts. Director of the Museum of Modern Art, 1949-1968. Born Vienna, Austria. D'Harnoncourt was co-author for "Indian Art of the United States" and "The Painted Pig" (1930).


The collection was donated by d'Harnoncourt's widow, Sarah d'Harnoncourt, in 1975, 1981, and 1984.

Related Materials

Eleven linear feet of the Museum of Modern Art's d'Harnoncourt papers were lent to the Archives of American Art for microfilming in 1983. These included papers generated by d'Harnoncourt during his professional affiliation with the Museum, such as: personal files; three appointment notebooks; professional files including Latin American correspondence; exhibition files; files documenting outside affiliations; and departmental and special event files. The papers were returned to the Museum of Modern Art after microfilming. The microfilm is available on Archives' legacy microfilm reels 2919-2931, but is not described in the Container Listing of this finding aid.

An oral history of RenÔe d'Harnoncourt, interviewed by Isabel Grossner in 1968, can be found at Columbia University, Oral History Research Office, 801 Butler Library, 535 West 114 Street, New York, NY 10027.

Language Note

The collection is in English and Spanish.


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Location of Originals

  • Reels 2919-2931: Originals in: Museum of Modern Art.