Van Alen Institute Design Archive


Originally founded in 1894 as the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects, Van Alen Institute (VAI) has accumulated a significant archive of historical design material documenting the development and expansion of late 19th and early 20th century American architectural education. This material was identified in 2007 and remains virtually unknown to design researchers and educators. VAI's archival material dates from 1893 - 1994 and is comprised of 258 linear feet of institutional records, 39 linear feet of photographic materials and 4,000 + original architectural drawings. Records include the Institute's founding documents, correspondence, trustee and design jury meeting minutes, financial documents, design competition programs, publications and scrapbooks. Photographic material includes over 200 albumen prints (1904-1908) and approximately 12,000 gelatin silver prints and negatives of student drawings (1904-1994). The archive's original drawings date from 1936 and are complimented by 67 remarkable drawings from the organization's early history that were donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1980. Based on a preliminary box survey, VAI has identified four record groups corresponding to the Institute's historical departments - Architecture, Sculpture, Mural Painting and Interior Decoration - and three groups corresponding to the Institute's activities - Administrative Records, Fontainebleau School of Fine Arts and the Beaux-Arts Ball.


Cataloging Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded

Year Added



Columbia University


  • Chris Dierks

Collection Size

198 boxes, 297 linear feet, 4500 objects

Date Range

1893 - 1994

Geographic Scope

VAI's archive is primarily national in scope, but does include works from international students.