D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives


Photograph by Harriet Sohmers Zwerling, "Studies Building, Black Mountain College"
Spec Coll
M2009.07.01-02 ; OS2009.07.01

Title Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Collection
Creator Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center


Alt. Creator D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections


Identifier http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/mss/BMCMAC/default_bmcmac.html
Description "The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) was founded in 1993 by Mary Holden to honor and pay tribute to the spirit and history of Black Mountain College and to acknowledge the College's role as a forerunner in progressive, interdisciplinary education with a focus on the arts." Emphasizing the individual rather than the institution, the College had striking success in producing creative people of great talent and originality. Black Mountain College left both a remarkable legacy in the arts and an important educational model.

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center signed a cooperative agreement with the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 2009. This collaboration will allow controlled (physical and digital) access to the photographic materials, documents, correspondence, and publications of Black Mountain College and to newly created materials about the experimental college that existed in Black Mountain, NC between 1933 and 1957. As they are inventoried, materials will be brought to UNC Asheville's Special Collections and made accessible to the Museum, the University and the public.  The scope of the collection includes the core years of 1933-1957, but will extend to the present day as new programs, exhibits, and publications are completed by the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.

Art objects or original works of art did not accompany the archival material to UNCA and any inquiries regarding holdings of that nature must be addressed to the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/

Date original 1933 - present
Date digital 2008-10-28
Publisher UNC Asheville, Special Collections
Contributor Various
Type Source type: Collection ; Image ; Text
Format various
Source M2009.07.01-02 ; OS2009.09.01  Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
Language English ; Latin ; French ; German
Coverage temporal 1933 to present
Coverage spatial Black Mountain, North Carolina ; Asheville, North Carolina ; western North Carolina ;
Rights Any display, publication, or public use must credit Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and the University of North Carolina Asheville, Special Collections  Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Donor Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
Acquisition 2009-08-14
Citation Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Collection, Special Collections, D.H. Ramsey Library, University of North Carolina Asheville
Processed by Special Collections staff: 2009-08-14 
Last update 2009-09-16 ; 2009-09-29 hw ; 2013-11-18 gh
Hisotrical Context

Black Mountain College: An Introduction

The story of Black Mountain College begins in 1933 and comprises a fascinating chapter in the history of education and the arts. Conceived by John A. Rice, a brilliant and mercurial scholar who left Rollins College in a storm of controversy, Black Mountain College was born out of a desire to create a new type of college based on John Dewey's principles of progressive education. The events that precipitated the College's founding occurred simultaneously with the rise of Adolf Hitler, the closing of the Bauhaus by the Nazis, and the beginning of the persecution of artists and intellectuals on the European continent. Some of these people found their way to Black Mountain, either as students or faculty. Meanwhile, the United States was mired in the Great Depression, and Franklin Roosevelt, committed to putting people back to work, established the Public Works Arts Project (a precursor of the WPA).

The founders of the College believed that the study and practice of art were indispensable aspects of a student's general liberal arts education, and they hired Josef Albers to be the first art teacher. Speaking not a word of English, he and his wife Anni left the turmoil in Hitler's Germany and crossed the Atlantic Ocean by boat to teach art at this small, rebellious college in the mountains of North Carolina.

Black Mountain College was fundamentally different. It was owned and operated by the faculty and was committed to democratic governance and to the idea that the arts are central to the experience of learning. There were no grades, and each student participated fully in their educational path and timetable. All members of the College community took part in its operation, including farm work, construction projects and kitchen duty. Located in the midst of the beautiful North Carolina mountains near Asheville, the secluded environment fostered a strong sense of individuality and creative intensity within the small College community.

Legendary even in its own time, Black Mountain College attracted and created maverick spirits, some of whom went on to become well-known and extremely influential individuals in the latter half of the 20th century. A partial list includes people such as Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Josef and Anni Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Ben Shahn, Franz Kline, Arthur Penn, Buckminster Fuller, M.C. Richards, Francine du Plessix Gray, Charles Olson, Dorothea Rockburne and many others, famous and not-so-famous, who have impacted the world in a significant way. Even now, decades after its closing in 1956, the powerful influence of Black Mountain College continues to reverberate. [text from a flyer produced by Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center]


Collection Series  

Series I



BMC Publications [1933-1957]

Catalogs, announcements, bulletins, broadsides, newsletters, and flyers published by Black Mountain College

Series II BMC Correspondence
Series III




BMC Documents

"A Misadventure in Education" by an Ousted Professor

Black Mountain College - Preliminary Announcement of Black
       Mountain College, 1933-34


Report on Miss Elizabeth Brett Of Black Mountain College

Form, Ritual and Formality

Brief history of Warren Wilson during the years of Black Mountain College

Series IV Administrative
Series V


BMC Scrapbooks

Jennifer Pickering Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings

Series VI



Lecture Notes

     Erwin Straus Lecture Notes [1939 - 1941]
     Elizabeth Brett Lecture Notes [1939-1943]
     Sarah Carlise Towery Lecture Notes [1944]

Series VII


Articles About BMC

    Includes newspaper reports and magazine features published by external
    sources and not included within the Jennifer Pickering Scrapbook of
    Newspaper Clippings


Series VIII




Kenelm Winslow Fotofolio (photograph album) 

Will Hamlin Photograph Collection


Series IX


BMCM+AC Publications (Announcements, museum exhibit information, newsletters, flyers, posters, etc., published by Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center)


Series X

Thomas Meyer Oral History, UNCA Special Collections

Melanie English, "'We Rush to it Drooling at the Mouth': Jonathan Williams and the Jargon Society." A thesis submitted to the History Department of the University of North Carolina Asheville, Spring 2011.