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A. E. (Albert Eugene) Gallatin Papers

Identifier: GAL

Scope and Contents

Compiled by A. E. Gallatin, these three scrapbooks chronicle his most ambitious venture--establishing the first museum gallery in America devoted to modern art. The scrapbooks consist of newspaper and magazine clippings, press releases and announcements of exhibitions, acquisitions and new publications. The earliest volume begins in 1927 when New York University announced its opening of the Gallery of Living Art on its main Washington Square campus. Gallatin, who served as co-chair to the founding committee, contributed on permanent loan paintings, drawings and watercolors by artists such as Braque, Picasso, Matisse and American artists such as Demuth, Marin and Sheeler. A good deal of publicity included in the second volume focues on Gallatin's acquisition of the 1921 version of Picasso's painting "The Three Musicians," which Gallatin described as one of the most important paintings of modern times and a better realization of the subject than the artist's earlier version. It was also during this time that the gallery was renamed the Museum of Living Art. According to a 1937 article in the NYU student publication, the Album, the name change was to make it clear that the pictures on display were not for sale. The third scrapbook contains clippings, press releases and ephemera from 1942 to the summer of 1943. Although less than half its pages are filled, the scrapbook chronicles two significant events. In December of 1942, the University announced that it would close the museum, citing economic reasons and describing the closure as "one of the casualties of war." In February 1943 came the announcement that Gallatin's collection of approximately 170 works of art would go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as a loan during his lifetime, with ownership coming to the museum thereafter. Media coverage of the exhibition opening is included from both the Philadephia and New York press.

The documents and photographs series includes Gallatin's own correpsondence with galleries and museums, receipts and thank you notes from the Philadelphia Museum of Art for gifts of works of art, and other material related to Gallatin's relationship with the museum, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1943 until his death in 1952. It includes 1939 correspondence with Rene D'Harnoncourt, then serving as General Manager of the Golden Gate International Exposition Commission, regarding John Wallace's work in the exposition that year.


  • 1926-1952


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The A. E. (Albert Eugene) Gallatin Papers are 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

Albert Eugene Gallatin was born in 1881 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. After a brief study of law, Gallatin, on his twenty-first birthday, inherited the family fortune, which was made through banking and investment, and turned his attention to art. After an initial interest in collecting classical vases, Gallatin focused on modern art. He began buying in Paris after World War I, and by 1921 he was working with some of the city's major art dealers. Gallatin also became an avid collector of works by American artists identified as the Ash Can School. After donating some works to the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1922, Gallatin decided to open his own gallery that would be devoted to modern art. Using his connection as a trustee for New York University, Gallatin became co-chairmen of the University's Committee of Art Exhibition and opened the Gallery of Living Art, which was located on the main campus at Washington Square. The gallery first exhibited works, on permanent loan from Gallatin, by Picasso, Braque, Gris and Leger. Later shows included works shown publicly for the first time in the U.S. by artists such as Joan Miro, Andre Masson, and Jean Arp. American artists included John Marin, Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth. One of his most acclaimed purchases, which was also exhibited at the gallery, was Picasso's Three Musicians. The 1936 purchase also coincided with the renaming of the gallery to the Museum of Living Art. Gallatin wrote exhibition catalogs for his museum as well as critical studies of artists such as Whistler, George Braque, John Sloan and Aubrey Beardsley. With the closing of his museum in 1943, Gallatin bequeathed his collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He died in 1952.


1 linear foot

Language of Materials



These three scrapbooks document the Museum of Living Art founded by the collector and art historian Albert Eugene Gallatin. The scrapbooks contain newspaper and magazine clippings, press releases and announcements of exhibitions, acquisitions and new publications. The later addition of material from Gallatin's grand-nephew, William Nichols, contains documents and photographs to do with Gallatin's collecting and his relationship with the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Custodial History

Bequest of A. E. Gallatin, unless otherwise noted.

Existence and Location of Copies

The three scrapbooks were microfilmed by the Archives of American Art in 1977-1978. A copy of the microfilm is available in the Library.

Processing Information

These materials were arranged and described by Bertha Adams. Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Guide to the A. E. (Albert Eugene) Gallatin Papers
Finding aid prepared by Bertha Adams, later additions by Molly Reynolds
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services

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