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Corporate author Brooklyn Museum. Office of the Director.
Title William Henry Fox records, 1913-33 (bulk), 1908-35 (inclusive).
Found In Brooklyn Museum. Office of the Director. Records, 1896-[ongoing]
Description 15.25 linear ft. plus
1.25 linear ft. oversize materials plus
.5 linear ft photographs
Arrangement Comprises a single subject and name series arranged by randomly-assigned file numbers.
Location Call Number Vol./Copy Status Information
 Brooklyn Archives  DIR: WHF    AVAILABLE
Access restrictions Some folders may be restricted. Consult archivist for details.
Biographical/historical note The son of Daniel M. Fox, lawyer and mayor of Philadelphia, William Henry Fox received academic (1881) and law (1883) degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He also studied studio art and drew and painted as an amateur. In 1904, Fox served as Secretary of the Fine Arts Department of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, and the following year became the first Director of the John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis. In 1910, he served as Secretary General of the American Section of the International Exposition of Art and History in Rome.
Fox returned to America in October 1912 and began a short job search that brought him to Brooklyn. He was appointed Curator in Chief of the Central Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts & Sciences (The Brooklyn Museum) in January 1913 and then Director in January 1914, the first person to hold that office. His tenure at the Museum lasted the remainder of his career: Fox went on sabbatical in May 1933, leaving Philip Newell Youtz as Acting Director, and retired permanently in April 1934.
When hired by Brooklyn Institute President A. Augustus Healy, Fox was charged with redressing an imbalance between Natural History and Fine Arts at the Museum, where Natural History exhibits had been receiving the most attention. In his early years, he created a new atmosphere in the overcrowded galleries by retiring many exhibits and creating alcoves with movable screens. In order to establish a special niche for the Museum in the New York art world, Fox began presenting the works of contemporary American and Eurpoean artists. He also worked to involve members of Brooklyn society in the institution, creating a Museum memberhsip program in 1916 and hosting gala social events at the Museum.
The Museum building itself underwent some change under Fox's administration, with the construction of the superstructure of Sections F and G in 1913-14 and the completion of interior spaces in 1923-25.
During Fox's administration, the three existing curatorial departments (Fine Arts, Ethnology, and Natural History) were expanded and subdivided to include Prints (1913, under the care of the Librarian), Decorative Arts (1925), Oriental Art (1929), and Egyptology (1932). The emphasis on fine and applied arts grew increasingly strong, eventually resulting in the transfer of Natural History collections and activities to the Brooklyn Children's Museum (a subdivision of the Museum), beginning in 1929.
The collections grew steadily during Fox's two decades in office, through donations, purchases, bequests, and loans, as well as by means of Museum-sponsored collecting expeditions. The Museum Collection Fund was established in 1913; funds for the purchase of objects were raised during yearly Collections Fund appeals. In addition to installations of the permanent collection, Fox inaugurated a regular series of special exhibitions of loaned works. Many of these exhibitions were organized by Fox himself and were circulated to other institutions after showing at The Brooklyn Museum.
Two publications were established during Fox's tenure, the Brooklyn Museum Quarterly, of which he was editor, and the Children's Museum News.
Educational activities were extremely important. Ties to the New York City Board of Education and the School Art League were forged in 1913. Public school art teachers' training courses were added in 1920 and links formed with local colleges in 1930 to offer credit for Museum courses. The use of college students to teach children's art classes also began in 1930. A full series of lectures and docent-led tours were supplemented by the introduction of motion pictures in 1915. Radio lectures and concerts on WNYC brought the Museum to an even broader audience. Fox was also committed to encouraging the use of the collections and the Museum by members of the design industry, establishing a designers' room in 1918, and also by artists, for whom a print lab was set up in 1914.
Fox was active in the art world and in community affairs, including memberships on the Advisory Board of An American Group; the Fine Arts Advisory Committee of the Century of Progress International Exposition; the board of the Art Students League; the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; the Carnegie Corporation Advisory Group on Museum Education; and the France-America Society.
Summary The records of William Henry Fox's administration document all activities of the Museum and include correspondence with artists, donors, lenders, and vendors; Board of Trustees and Governing Committee members; New York City agencies, particularly the Parks Department; Museum staff; and staff of other museums and cultural institutions.
The activities of the curatorial departments can be tracked through files on the individual curators and departments. These files often contain letters reporting on collecting expeditions, information that may not be available elsewhere. In addition, the files document everyday activities, from routine memos to requisitions for works of art. Among the most important curatorial correspondents are Stewart Culin and Herbert Spinden (Ethnology); William Henry Goodyear, Herbert Tschudy, and Andre Rueff (Fine Arts, Paintings); George P. Engelhardt and Robert C. Murphy (Natural History); Elizabeth Haynes (Decorative Arts); Susan Hutchinson (Library & Prints); and Tassilo Adam (Oriental Art).
Donor correspondence documents the offer and acquisition (or rejection) of objects as diverse as a small curiosity or a major art collection. Bequest files also contain valuable acquisitions information. The provenance of objects in the collection can often be traced through these files. Among the donors and artists found in the files are Edwin H. Blashfield, Charles Caryl Coleman, M.D.C. Crawford, Frank Crowninshield, Katherine and Dorothea Dreier, Michael Friedsam, Emil Fuchs, Albert E. Gallatin, Samuel E. Haslett, A. Augustus Healy, Paul Helleu, William H. Herriman, Alfred W. Jenkins, Joseph Pennell, Dick S. Ramsay, Augusta Saint-Gaudens, Louis Sparre, Joseph Stella, Theodora Wilbour, and Claggett Wilson.
Correspondence with Trustees also provides valuable insights into administrative matters, collecting policy, and Museum activities. Several Trustees, including Frank L. Babbott, Edward C. Blum, A. Augustus Healy, Adolph Lewisohn, Luke V. Lockwood, John Hill Morgan, and Caroline A. L. Pratt took a very active interest in the day-to-day activities of the Museum and generated a significant amount of correspondence.
During Fox's administration, a number of exhibition series were established, among them the biennials "Water Color Paintings by American Artists," beginning in 1921, and "Paintings, Sculpture & Drawings by American & Foreign Artists," beginning in 1928. The Museum also hosted the annual exhibitions of the Brooklyn Society of Etchers from 1915, The Brooklyn Society of Miniature Painters from 1916, and the Brooklyn Society of Artists from 1922. The Director's files provide important adjunct material to the primary exhibition documentation, which appears in curatorial files.
Of particular significance are exhibition files that document Fox's organization of circulating loan shows of contemporary art and decorative arts. Fox acted as curator for many shows, often assisted by art critic Christian Brinton. The files include correspondence and lists compiled during trips to Europe to visit museums and artists, select works, and arrange loans; efforts to arrange venues; administration; and critical reaction.
In addition, several important exhibitions organized by outside groups were held at the Museum. Among these, the Société Anonyme's "International Exhibition of Modern Art" (1925-27), the "International Exhibition Organized by the Carnegie Institute" (1928), and the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen (AUDAC) exhibition (1931), are of particular significance. Circulating exhibitions from the American Federation of Arts also appeared at the Museum. While the depth of information seen above does not exist in these files, they do provide critical material not found elsewhere.
Related collections Records of the Office of the Director, Wills & Estates files (1896- ) contain material from Fox's administration concerning bequests, gifts, legal affairs, and grants.
Cite as Records of the Office of the Director, William Henry Fox, 1913-33, The Brooklyn Museum Archives.
Indexes Unpublished finding aid available in repository.
Folder-level descriptions available on-line in repository.
Contemporaneous card index available in repository.
Source of acquisition Records of the Office of the Director, William Henry Fox Registrar's Office internal transfer
Note The William Henry Fox records form one of 12 series in the Records of the Office of the Director, The Brooklyn Museum.
Provenance These files were held by the Registrar's Office until accessioned by the Archives.
LC subject Adam, Tassilo.
Babbott, Frank Lusk, 1854-1933.
Blashfield, Edwin Howland, 1848-1936.
Blum, Edward C. (Edward Charles), 1863-1946.
Brinton, Christian, 1870-1942.
Coleman, Charles Caryl, 1840-1928.
Crawford, M. D. C. (Morris De Camp), 1882-1949.
Crowninshield, Frank, 1872-1947.
Culin, Stewart, 1858-1929.
Dreier, Dorothea A., 1870-1923.
Dreier, Katherine S. (Katherine Sophie), 1877-1952.
Engelhardt, George P. (George Paul), 1871-1942.
Fox, Daniel M.
Fox, William Henry, 1858-1952.
Friedsam, Michael, 1860?-1931.
Fuchs, Emil, 1866-1929.
Gallatin, A. E. (Albert Eugene), 1881-1952.
Goodyear, W. H. (William Henry), 1846-1923.
Haslett, Samuel E.
Haynes, Elizabeth, 1959-
Healy, A. Augustus (Aaron Augustus), 1850-1921.
Helleu, Paul, 1859-1927.
Herriman, William H.
Hooper, Franklin William, 1851-1914.
Hutchinson, Susan A., 1873-1945.
Jenkins, Alfred W., 1862-1932.
Lewisohn, Adolph, 1849-1938.
Lockwood, Luke Vincent, 1872-1951.
Morgan, John Hill, 1870-1945.
Murphy, Robert Cushman, 1887-1973.
Pennell, Joseph, 1857-1926.
Pratt, Caroline A.L. (Caroline Ames Ladd), -1946.
Ramsay, Dick S., -1931.
Rueff, André E.
Saint-Gaudens, Augusta.
Sparre, Louis, 1863-1964.
Spinden, Herbert Joseph, 1879-1967.
Stella, Joseph, 1877-1946.
Tschudy, Herbert B. (Herbert Bolivar), 1874-1946.
Wilbour, Theodora, -1947.
Wilson, Claggett, 1887-1952.
Youtz, Philip Newell, 1895-1972.
Art museum directors.
Art museums -- Educational aspects.
Traveling exhibitions.
Museum architecture.
Art museums -- New York (State) -- New York.
American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen.
An American Group.
Art Students League.
Brooklyn Society of Artists (New York, N.Y.)
Society of American Graphic Artists.
American Federation of Arts.
Brooklyn Society of Miniature Painters.
Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Carnegie Institute. Museum of Art.
Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-1934 : Chicago, Ill.)
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
France-America Society.
International Exposition of Art and History (1920 : Rome, Italy)
John Herron Art Institute.
Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 : Saint Louis, Mo.)
Société anonyme.
New York (N.Y.). Department of Parks.
Brooklyn Children's Museum.
Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences.
Brooklyn Museum.
Brooklyn Museum. Office of the Director.
Other subject Art museums -- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
WorldCat no. 122566549

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