Met Museum of Art Archives Opens Two Collections

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MetThe Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives has announced the availability for research of two collections of records of 20th century museum officials.

These are among 15 collections being arranged, described, and cataloged over 27 months with funding from the Leon Levy Foundation. Work on the approximately 300 linear feet of records by two full-time archivists began in January 2013. Finding aids are now available online for:

  • George Trescher records related to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Centennial: records of the Secretary of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 100th Anniversary Committee of the Board of Trustees, who coordinated the planning and implementation of a 1970 Centennial that included a wide variety of Museum programs, activities, and special exhibitions.

  • Joseph V. Noble records: records of Metropolitan Museum of Art Operating Administrator (1956-1967), Chairman of the Administrative Committee (1966-1967) that ran the Museum after the unexpected death of Director James Rorimer (1905-1966), and Vice-Director of Administration (1967-1970). They provide unique insights on senior-level management decisions and Museum operations during a period of dramatic change in the Museum’s administrative organization.

Additional collections to be processed include records of past Museum directors and senior staff who were intimately involved in the formation, growth, and leadership of the Museum. They include the Museum’s first salaried director, Luigi Palma di Cesnola; the Museum’s fifth director and proponent of educational programming and public outreach, Francis Henry Taylor; the Museum’s sixth director and head of the U.S. Army’s Museums and Fine Arts and Archives section during World War II, James Rorimer; and Thomas Hoving, best known as the driving force behind the Museum’s “blockbuster” exhibitions during his tenure as director from 1966-1977.

The largest collection (approximately 165 linear feet) to be processed in the project funded by the Leon Levy Foundation is the records of the Museum’s Costume Institute, which document the department from its 1937 formation as the independent Museum of Costume Art, through its merger with the Metropolitan Museum in 1946 and its exhibitions of the 1990s. The collection chronicles groundbreaking exhibitions coordinated by the legendary Diana Vreeland including “The World of Balenciaga” (1973), “Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design” (1974), “The Glory of Russian Costume” (1976), and “Vanity Fair” (1977).

Already processed and available are:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 75th Anniversary Committee records: planning for and events marking the Museum’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1946 and 1947, including a membership campaign to raise funds for the Museum’s planned postwar expansion, special exhibitions at the Museum and elsewhere, and a luncheon honoring General Dwight David Eisenhower for his efforts in recovering art looted by the Nazis during World War II.
  • Irvine McManus records related to “Treasures of Tutankhamun” exhibition: records from the Exhibition Coordinator of the first “blockbuster” exhibition at the Museum of spectacular items from the boy king’s tomb, on loan from the Cairo Museum in Egypt, which also toured six other American museums from 1977 to 1979.

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art records regarding International Council of Museums (ICOM): documenting two international gatherings of museum professionals hosted at The Metropolitan Museum of Art – the International Congress in Art History and Museology (1954) and ICOM’s 7th Annual Conference (1965).

  • Preston Remington records: Curator of Decorative Arts and successor departments at the Metropolitan Museum from 1923 to 1958, and member of the Committee on Architectural Rearrangement (1941-1943) charged with planning for the Museum’s postwar expansion.

  • Albert Ten Eyck Gardner records: research fellow in the Office of the Director, Archivist and Acting Secretary, Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, and Associate Curator of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 100th Anniversary Committee (1941-1967). The records include research and background information for Gardner’s planned 1970 centennial history of the Metropolitan Museum, which was unpublished at the time of his death in 1967.
  • J. Kenneth Loughry records: Secretary of the Finance Committee, Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1944-1968). The records include financial reports, correspondence, memoranda, and information on a proposed, but never realized, merger with the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Announcements will be posted on a rolling basis as additional collections are opened for research.

For information about access to the physical materials at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives, contact archives@metmuseum or visit their website at

About the Leon Levy Foundation

The Leon Levy Foundation, founded in 2004, is a private, not-for-profit foundation created from the estate of Leon Levy, an investor with a longstanding commitment to philanthropy. The Foundation’s overarching goal is to support scholarship at the highest level, ultimately advancing knowledge and improving the lives of individuals and society at large.

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