The Henri Gabriel Marceau Director records contain the records of the Director’s office during Henri Gabriel Marceau’s term as Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Additional records pertaining to Henri Marceau’s curatorial work at the Museum may be found in the Henri Gabriel Marceau Curatorial records and in the Johnson Collection Curatorial records. Additional resources about his conservation work at the Museum will be found in the Conservation and Technical Research Collection. The Marceau Director records date from 1933 to 1980, the bulk of which span the years 1955 to 1964, and they represent both major developments and events at the Museum, as well as daily administrative activities during that period. Many significant capital improvements took place during Marceau’s directorship, including the construction of the Van Pelt Auditorium and the renovation of the Great Stair Hall, an increase in programs and events sponsored by the Museum, including an expanded Division of Education and an ambitious Tours program. This was also a period when the Museum’s collections were enriched by the addition of a number of significant private collections. These records reflect this period of steady growth and focused development, while also containing evidence of the smaller decisions and actions that supported the Museum’s daily functions.
The collection is arranged into two series: “I. Correspondence” and “II. Object files.”
Series “I. Correspondence” dates from 1947 to 1966 and is arranged chronologically by fiscal year, with each year’s folders organized alphabetically. There are files for alphabetic sequences, such as “An–Ar”, as well as individual files for specific entities, such as “Annenberg, Walter” or “Art Directors Club of Philadelphia.” General alphabetic files may also contain materials that are pertinent to records represented by specific folder names; as such, both should be explored. The general alphabetic folders often contain brief correspondences about authentication or acquisition of works, or letters of inquiry or complaint. More specifically titled folders often contain a sustained correspondence, a recurring commitment (such as professional memberships), or records related to an ongoing project.
The bulk of materials relating to the Museum’s administrative functions are filed under “Philadelphia Museum of Art.” For example: “Philadelphia Museum of Art: Admissions” or “Philadelphia Museum of Art: Annual Report, Report of the Director.” Exhibitions and curatorial correspondence are not usually found in this format, but instead are filed under the specific exhibition, department or staff name that is appropriate. Both situations should be explored, as occasionally files exist in both places, such as “Philadelphia Museum of Art: Zeiget, Julius (Secretary and Treasurer)” and independently as “Zeiget, Julius.” Curator’s files, such as “Kramrisch, Stella” may contain wide ranging general correspondence, correspondence relating to a specific exhibition, or a mixture of both.
Folders containing records from other museums are generally arranged as a subset of “Museums,” with exceptions--it is best to check both the “Museums” section as well as the pertinent alphabetical run for a specific institution. This is true for university records as well: they may be found as a subset of “Universities” or they may sometimes be found filed by the institution’s name.
In general, series “ I. Correspondence” contains relatively few letters written by Henri Marceau. Instead, it tracks the overall operation of the museum through the records produced by many different individuals and departments.
Series “II. Object files” dates from 1933 to 1980, and is considerably smaller than “I. Correspondence;” however, it contains rich information about items from the collection, including possible acquisitions, gifts, bequests, loans, and repairs. These files include correspondence, press clippings, exhibition lists, loan acknowledgements, research materials and publications relating to specific works of art or sometimes to entire collections. Several files contain blueprints or design documents, and photographs are found throughout. Many of these files contain the correspondence of Marceau, as well as other Museum employees, and there are some letters of Evan H. Turner (Marceau’s successor as the Museum’s Director). The object files are organized alphabetically: variably by artist’s name (“Eakins, Thomas”), by object name (“Barberini tapestry”) or sometimes by donor name (“Stern, Louis E. Collection”).
While all of the object files may contain content relevant to specific research interests, several contain particularly notable records. This includes correspondence between David DuBon, Henry McIlhenny, and the Vicomte de Noailles, correspondence concerning the Barberini tapestry, research and press clippings for the Constantine tapestries, as well as the files documenting the C. “Otto” von Kienbusch armor collection and the Louis E. Stern Collection. The Kienbusch records include correspondence, a copy of Mr. Kienbusch’s will, blueprints and specifications for the gallery; spanning 1955 to 1964, these records tell a complete story from initial contact through the formal gift and the design and construction of the gallery to house the collection. The Stern files represent a particularly thorough documentation of the Stern Collection, including photographic documentation of the artwork as it was installed in Stern’s apartment, and correspondence from 1961 that outlines the delicate early negotiations between Stern and the Museum President, R. Sturgess Ingersoll, with John Canaday (Art editor, New York Times ) acting as an intermediary. Along with the other files, this provides a comprehensive documentation of the acquisition of that collection.
Researchers interested in the architecture of the museum, or the installation of architectural elements such as the Japanese Teahouse, will find this group of records very interesting, since many physical changes were made to the Museum and its galleries during this period. The files concerning the acquisition of private collections provide a wealth of information on donor relations and on collecting in the mid-twentieth century.