Oral history interview with Thomas M. Messer, 1970 Sept. 22

Messer, Thomas M. , b. 1920
Museum director
Active in New York, N.Y.

Size: Transcript: 35 p.

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformated in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hrs., 9 min.

Collection Summary: An interview of Thomas M. Messer conducted 1970 Sept. 22, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art. Messer speaks of his childhood in Czechoslovakia; his early interest in art and music; coming to the United States; his education at Boston University; directing a museum, in Roswell, N.M., for three years; going to the American Federation of Arts and becoming director there; moving on to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston; the development of his interest in Latin American art and culture; becoming the director of the Guggenheim Museum; his philosophy on museum acquisitions; the current art market; what makes exhibitions successful or unsuccessful; and the future of museums.

Biographical/Historical Note: Thomas M. Messer (1919- ) is a museum director from New York, N.Y.

This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.

How to Use this Interview

  • Transcript: microfilm reel 3417 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
  • Transcript: Patrons must use microfilm copy.
  • For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.

Also in the Archives