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Marcel Duchamp Research Collection

Identifier: MDR

Scope and Contents

The Marcel Duchamp Research Collection contains a variety of material related to Duchamp, his life, work, and legacy. The material was collected from various sources by the staff of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art (formerly the Twentieth Century Art Department), Philadelphia Museum of Art, and compiled as the Marcel Duchamp Research Collection to support the curatorial and scholarly work of Museum staff and outside researchers. The collection includes subject files concerning portraits of Duchamp in various media ("Portraits"); artists whose work refers to or is otherwise influenced or inspired by Duchamp ("Artists Inspired by Duchamp"); and exhibitions, films, seminars, symposia, and other events about or related to Duchamp ("Exhibitions and Events"). The collection also includes copies and originals of Duchamp's correspondence ("Correspondence"); photographs of Duchamp, his works of art, and related subjects ("Photographs"); and published and unpublished writings about Duchamp ("Writings"). The "Kiesler research material" series contains Frederick Kiesler's research notes, interviews, layouts, photographs, and other preparatory material related to his two published articles on Marcel Duchamp, "Design-Correlation" (Architectural Record) and "Les Larves d'Image" (View VI).


  • 1933-2003, undated


Language of Materials

Predominantly in English; some material in French.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. The "Unpublished Writings" subseries may only be consulted with permission of the Archivist.

Conditions Governing Use

The Marcel Duchamp Research Collection is the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.

Biographical / Historical

The Twentieth Century Art Department was established in 1971, previously being a section of the Painting Department. It then became known as the Modern and Contemporary Art Department in 2000. Museum director Evan Turner appointed Anne d'Harnoncourt, a Marcel Duchamp scholar, as the first department head. In this capacity, d'Harnoncourt oversaw the development of the department's acquisitions, installation and other programs, and, in conjunction with Kynaston McShine and others from the Museum of Modern Art, organized its first exhibition, the seminal 1973 show "Marcel Duchamp." In the process of arranging this exhibition, d'Harnoncourt began collecting Duchamp related correspondence, ephemera, articles, and other archival material with the intent of establishing a comprehensive Duchamp research collection at the museum to support both the in-house staff who care for the museum's unparalleled collection of Marcel Duchamp works and outside researchers who rely on the museum for expert advice regarding the artist and his works.

d'Harnoncourt and other departmental staff members have contributed ephemera, published and unpublished articles, clippings, and photographs regularly to the collection over the past thirty years. Much of this material was acquired through the normal course of staff curatorial duties, such as reviewing articles and books prior to publication, answering research inquiries, and corresponding with Duchamp family and friends. The research collection has also grown through the purchase of a small group of images by the photographer John D. Schiff and the gift of original material from Lilian Kiesler, George Heard Hamilton, Lawrence Steefel and others friends and acquaintances of Marcel Duchamp.


9 linear feet


The Marcel Duchamp Research Collection is comprised of ephemera, photographs, clippings, writings and correspondence related to the artist Marcel Duchamp, his life, work, and legacy which was collected and compiled by the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Custodial History

Much of the material, such as published and unpublished articles, were generated or acquired as part of the ongoing activities of the Department of Modern and Contemporary. Other material, such as the Frederick Kiesler series and the John Schiff subseries, were acquired by the museum through purchase or gift. A few original Duchamp letters were sent to the museum by donors aware of the museum's interest in building a comprehensive Duchamp archives.


2003. The following items were given by Conrad C. M. Arensberg on 2003 February 18: a photocopy of a flyer announcing a Beatrice Wood lecture at C.U.N.Y. on Mar. 8, 1978, and Alan Jones's article "Roché and Victor" published in Arts magazine.

Processing Information

These materials were arranged and described by Katherine Stefko, Adrianna Del Collo, Katy Rawdon, and Vicky Rodner. Funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Guide to the Marcel Duchamp Research Collection
Finding aid prepared by Katherine Stefko, Adrianna Del Collo, Katy Rawdon, and Vicky Rodner.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives Repository

Philadelphia Museum of Art
PO Box 7646
Philadelphia PA 19101-7646 United States