Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of by Neil Harris

By Neil Harris

American paintings museums flourished within the overdue 20th century, and the impresario prime a lot of this progress used to be J. Carter Brown, director of the nationwide Gallery of paintings in Washington, DC, from 1969 to 1992.  Along with S. Dillon Ripley, who served as Smithsonian secretary for far of this time, Brown reinvented the museum adventure in ways in which had very important results for the cultural lifetime of Washington and its viewers in addition to for American museums regularly. In Capital Culture, exceptional historian Neil Harris offers a wide-ranging examine Brown’s fulfillment and the expansion of museum tradition in this an important period.

Harris combines his in-depth wisdom of yank background and tradition with broad archival learn, and he has interviewed dozens of key avid gamers to bare how Brown’s showmanship remodeled the nationwide Gallery. on the time of the chilly conflict, Washington itself used to be growing to be right into a worldwide vacation spot, with Brown as its committed booster. Harris describes Brown’s significant function within the start of blockbuster exhibitions, equivalent to the King Tut exhibit of the overdue Nineteen Seventies and the nationwide Gallery’s immensely profitable Treasure homes of england, which helped motivate equally renowned exhibitions round the nation. He recounts Brown’s function in growing the award-winning East development through architect I. M. Pei and the next preservation of the West development. Harris additionally explores the politics of exhibition making plans, describing Brown's courtship of company leaders, politicians, and foreign dignitaries.

In this huge booklet Harris brings to lifestyles this dynamic period and exposes the production of Brown's striking yet expensive legacy, person who replaced the face of yankee museums forever.

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Additional resources for Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience

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31 Overall, it is unclear what benefits, beyond a credential, the Harvard Business School provided Carter in later years. Some of the gains were undoubtedly rhetorical. He would invoke his training on a variety of occasions, particularly when it came to organizational issues, personnel problems, and spatial planning. And he used it, in later years, when appealing to corporate executives who he hoped would subsidize major exhibitions. Certainly Brown’s ability to read a budget and analyze revenue projections were enhanced, but more significant, perhaps, was his encounter with a slightly older business student, who would become a lifelong friend and adviser.

In doing so, he was able to enlist several of the most eminent art historians and museum directors in the Western world. His father’s wealth, social position, public service, institutional philanthropy, and broader reputation opened any door Carter chose to knock on. Intense, amiable, and ambitious, the would-be museum administrator conducted, in effect, a one-man study of the state of American art history in 1958, and its relevance to a museum career. His notes on interviews and his correspondence document some fascinating commentaries.

Chapter two The National Gallery Directions and Deviations T he city of Washington, with its dense network of cultural institutions, stood on the eve of several revolutions when Carter Brown arrived in the summer of 1961 to serve as John Walker’s personal assistant at the National Gallery of Art. Coming barely six months after the presidential inauguration of another New Englander, John F. Kennedy, Brown’s move from New York began more than forty years of continuous involvement with Washington life and culture.

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