SHOW AND TELL at Architekturmuseum der TU München at the Pinakothek der Moderne (2014)

SHOW AND TELL: Architectural (Hi)Stories from the Collection

Architekturmuseum der TU München at the Pinakothek der Moderne
Munich, Germany
13 March 2014 –15 June 2014

Press release text by Pinakothek der Moderne

At the start of the 21st century, architecture is experiencing a historic upheaval. For centuries, architectural design was conditioned and accompanied by drafting, modelling, and other medial processes that revealed material traces of architectural activity. The sketches, planning materials, and models left behind in artistic estates and archives form the basis for research into and presentations of architectural history. With the digital revolution, with the rapidly advancing reconfiguration of essential processes of design and implementation that is taking place under the aegis of the computer, these traces are now as a rule digital, meaning columns of figures composed of bits and bytes, legible only by means of specialised software, their long-term preservation a matter of uncertainty. What are the future prospects for an architectural collection that has until recently relied upon real, materially tangible objects?

The Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität München is among the largest specialised architectural collections in Europe. The larger theme of the exhibition “SHOW AND TELL – Architectural (Hi)Stories from the Collection” is the archive and its variegated materials, which are significant not least of all because inscribed directly onto each object preserved there is a story, one that must be narrated and investigated again and again. The collection’s inherent historicity is presented through more than forty incisive exemplars. Planning materials, sketches, models, letters, diaries, lecture manuscripts, and plaster reliefs: each object from the architectural collection suggests a process that is impelled by an architectural intention, but also tells its own tale, which may involve the history of the building and its creation, the forms of its documentation, the constructive and cultural context, or the biography of its designer and the voices of the architects themselves, who speak through their theories, methods, concepts, and ideas – whether in letters, manuscripts, or videos. We hope these objects and their stories will heighten curiosity about this singular collection, will stimulate the pursuit of historic traces, the ferreting out of unfamiliar or remote sources, the wresting from them of fresh interpretations or and explanations for past events: for this is what accounts for the fascination of an archive.

In order to maintain itself as a vibrant place of history and of the present, of research, teaching, and presentation, every museum collection must continually expand and reinvigorate itself from fresh viewpoints. For this reason, contemporary architects such as Johnstonmarklee, Grafton, Jürgen Mayer H., David Chipperfield, and Toyo Ito have been invited to participate in the exhibition “SHOW AND TELL” through personal contributions.

In direct conjunction with the exhibition, we are launching a new project that is designed to open new sources of knowledge to the collection. In many branches of historiography, the documentation of experience via narrative is referred to as “oral history,” and may also take cinematic form. Screened in the exhibition will be the first filmic documents of contemporary reports by major architects and city planners. This exhibition provides behind-the-scenes insights along with a broader overview, and strives to mobilise dialogue between historical and contemporary materials to generate processes of questioning about the collection’s significance, orientation, and future perspectives.