Marcia Tucker papers, 1973-1994

A Finding Aid to the Marcia Tucker papers, 1973-1994, in the Archives of American Art, by Joy Weiner

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Curator and museum director Marcia Tucker (1940-2006) lived and worked in New York.

In 1961, Marcia Tucker received her Bachelor of Arts from Connecticut College. She then went on to earn a Masters of Art from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts in 1965. In 1969, Tucker became curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Influenced by the political ferment of the 1960s, Marcia Tucker directed her curatorial efforts to organizing exhibitions that reflected the political and social currents of the day. An early exhibit that she co-curated with James Monte, "Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials," was one of the first major exhibitions dedicated to Process Art or Post Minimalism. She curated major surveys for the work of Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Bruce Nauman, Richard Tuttle, and Jack Tworkov. Some of Marcia Tucker's curatorial choices were critically received by colleagues and others in the artistic community. In 1977, she left the Whitney Museum to take on the role of founding director at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. At the time, the New Museum was one of the few experimental centers for contemporary and emerging artists working in graphic arts, video, and film, serving as a venue for artists outside the mainstream, gay artists, and members of radical Hispanic and feminist groups. During her tenure at the New Museum, Tucker directed a number of major exhibitions, such as "Bad Girls," 1994; "A Labor of Love," 1996; "The Times of Our Lives," 1999, among others.

Marcia Tucker's interests extended to writing and teaching. She was the series editor for the New Museum's Documentary Sources in Contemporary Art. Tucker was also a freelance art critic; her criticism appeared in such publications as Art in America, Artforum, and ArtNews. Tucker also taught and lectured at academic institutions and art schools, including the School of Visual Arts, Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, Cornell University, and Colgate University.

In 1999, Marcia Tucker left her post as Director of the New Museum, though she continued to be engaged in the contemporary art scene. In recognition of her innovative practices as a curator, Tucker received a number of awards, including the Skowhegan Governors Award for Lifetime Services to the Arts, 1988; Bard College Award for Curatorial Achievement and the Art Table Award for Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts, 2000. She was also the recipient of three Yaddo fellowships from 2003-2005.

In 2006, Tucker died in Santa Barbara, California. She is survived by her husband, Dean McNeill, an artist and their daughter, Ruby Tucker.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of curator and museum director Marcia Tucker measure 2.4 linear feet and date from 1973-1994. The collection documents Tucker's tenure as the Director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York through artists' files, correspondence, project files, printed material, and photographs. The papers also reflect Tucker's activities as an advocate for women in the arts.

Artists' files include correspondence, artists' statements, exhibition lists, press releases, printed material, and photographs of artwork. There is extensive correspondence with Richard M. Allen, James W. Johnson, Bruce Melamid, and Earl and Suzanne Staley.

Correspondence consists of a mix of professional and personal letters between Tucker and artists, business colleagues, and friends. Correspondence relating to the founding of the New Museum includes draft versions of the mission statement. Among the notable correspondents are: Louise Bourgeois, Joan Brown, Howardena Pindell, Markus Raetz, Joan Snyder, and Idelle Weber. Project files reflect Marcia Tucker's activities as an educator, writer, and advocate for women's role in the arts.

Photographs include an inscribed photograph to Marcia Tucker from Raymond Lark.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is organized into 5 series. The papers are arranged by material type and chronologically thereafter.

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms. People, families and organizations are listed under "Subjects" when they are the topic of collection contents and under "Names" when they are creators or contributors.


  • Museum directors--New York (State)--New York
  • Women museum curators--New York (State)--New York
  • Authors--New York (State)--New York
  • Educators--New York (State)--New York

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs


  • Allen, Richard, 1945-
  • Bourgeois, Louise, 1911-2010
  • Brown, Joan, 1938-1990
  • Johnson, James W.
  • Melamid, Bruce
  • Pindell, Howardena, 1943-
  • Ratz, Markus
  • Snyder, Joan, 1940-
  • Staley, Earl, 1938-
  • Staley, Suzanne
  • Weber, Idelle, 1932-
  • New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York, N.Y.)


The collection was donated by Marcia Tucker to the Archives of American Art in 2000.

Separated and Related Materials

Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Marcia Tucker conducted by Paul Cummings, August 11-September 8, 1978.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was fully processed and a finding aid prepared by Joy Weiner in 2007.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Marcia Tucker papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Marcia Tucker papers, 1973-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Artists' File, 1976-1994
(Boxes 1-2; 1.3 linear feet)

This series contains professional and personal correspondence from artists and business colleagues to Marcia Tucker in her role as the Director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Letters from artists ask Tucker to review their work for inclusion in the New Museum's exhibition schedule. Files also include artists' statements and exhibition lists, printed material, and photographs, slides, and a transparency of artwork. Among the printed materials are press releases, clippings, and announcements.

The files are arranged in alphabetical order by surname of artist, followed by 3 categories (various, eccentric, and miscellaneous). Material within folders is arranged chronologically.

Box Folder
1 1 Abramaovic, Ulay-Aguilar, Lara, undated, 1979-1993
1 2 Akin, Gwen-Albert, Brian, undated, 1988-1994
1 3 Allen, Richard M., undated, 1977-1994
1 4 Alper, Natalie-Balsley, John, undated, 1978-1994
1 5 Bankemper, Joan-Bell, Lillian, undated, 1978-1994
1 6 Bissell, Joan-Bleiberg, Gertrude, undated, 1982-1990
1 7 Bohnen, Blythe-Bornstein, Gloria, undated, 1979-1989
1 8 Bourgeois, Louise - Byron, Judy, undated, 1978-1994
1 9 Calderon, Mark A.-Chu, Ken, undated, 1978-1994
1 10 Clarke, Richard-Collery, Paula, undated, 1983-1993
1 11 Commer, Dick-Copley, Bill, 1978-1994
1 12 Copoulos, John-Curtis, Margaret, 1987-1994
1 13 Dallas-Swan, Susan - Diskin, Wyona, 1979-1993
1 14 Doner, Michele - Dunye, Cheryl, undated, 1983-1994
1 15 Eardley, Cynthia-Erving, Lauren, undated, 1978-1994
1 16 Fairskye, Marilyn-Feintuch, Robert, 1978-1994
1 17 Fields, Duggie-Fisher, Mel, undated, 1984-1993
1 18 Folsom, Fred-French, Christopher, undated, 1978-1991
1 19 Gaard, Frank-Gleason, Day, 1979-1994
1 20 Goldberg, Barry-Gonzalez, Mark, undated, 1987-1994
1 21 Goodman, Brenda-Green, George Thurman, undated, 1983-1994
1 22 Haacke, Hans-Harvey, Charles, undated, 1978-1994
1 23 Hecht, David-Hilton, Joseph, undated, 1979-1990
1 24 Hitner, Chuck-Hunsinger, Jason, undated, 1984-1992
1 25 Jaar, Alfred-Jecko, Mary Louise, 1979-1986
1 26 Johnson, James W., 1986-1993
1 27 Jones, Lou-Joseph, Rene Michelle, undated, 1978-1991
1 28 Kasher, Steven-Keating, Edward, undated, 1985-1993
1 29 Kimme, Luise-Klebanoff, Charlotte, undated, 1978-1988
1 30 Korman, Bette-Kuh, Katharine, 1984-1994
1 31 Laduke, Betty-Lew, Leslie, undated, 1978-1993
1 32 Lindsay, Doug - Lyons, Maria, undated, 1979-1990
1 33 MacPhee, Medrie-Meredith, Ann, undated, 1984-1994
1 34 Melamid, Brad, undated, 1990-1993
1 35 Miller, Kay-Myers, Christopher, undated, 1979-1990
1 36 Nakashashi, Kenji-Neustein, Joshua, 1987-1993
1 37 O'Grady, Lorraine-Shane, Patrick, undated, 1989-1994
1 38 Pernotto, James-Prince, Richard, undated, 1978-1994
1 39 Quinlen, Cathy-Redmond, Russell, undated, 1982-1994
1 40 Ripley, Curtis-Ryder, Mahler, undated, 1978-1990
Box Folder
2 1 Saar, Bettye-Schwartz, Karl, undated, 1978-1993
2 2 Segalove, Ilene-Shorr, Kenneth, undated, 1984-1994
2 3 Silver, Judy-Sonfist, Alan, 1976-1994
2 4 Sperry, Ann-Strider, Marjorie, 1977-1993
2 5 Sullivan, Jan-Thompson, Mimi, undated, 1978-1994
2 6 Tielkemeier, Ken-Twaddle, Randy L., undated, 1979-1994
2 7 Ukeles, Mierle Laderman-Vicoso, Mayo, undated, 1979-1993
2 8 Wadia, Judith-Welsler, Victor, undated, 1978-1987
2 9 Wexler, Alice-Woodring, Robbie, undated, 1978-1986
2 10 Yanagi, Yukinori-Zuazo, Ignacio, undated, 1984-1994
2 11 Various Artists, undated, 1983-1994
2 12 Eccentric Artists, undated, 1984-1985
2 13 Miscellaneous Slides, undated, 1981

Series 2: Correspondence, 1976-1994
(Box 2; 0.6 linear feet)

This series contains mostly copies of incoming and outgoing correspondence with Marcia Tucker from artists, business colleagues, and friends. Included are invitations, postcards, and greeting cards. Attachments to letters include exhibition announcements, slides, and transparencies of works of art. Also found are materials relating to the New Museum of Contemporary Art, including annotated typescripts of memoranda, an agenda, and drafts of a mission statement.

Files are arranged by subject and filed thereafter in chronological order.

Box Folder
2 14-17 The New Museum, 1977-1986
2 18-40 Correspondence with Artists, Colleagues, and Friends, undated, 1976-1994

Series 3: Project Files, 1973-1990
(Boxes 2-3; 0.15 linear feet)

This series consists of a partial overview of Marcia Tucker's activities as an art critic, educator, and as a supporter of women in the arts and alternative art spaces. Files contain a variety of material, such as letters, typescripts, notes, reports, proposals, and printed material.

Project files are arranged by subject and thereafter in chronological order.

Box Folder
2 41 Nelson Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, Marcia Tucker's Essay on Terry Allen's Work, undated, 1981
2 42 Bard College, Proposal: Master of Arts in Curatorial Studies, 1990
Box Folder
3 1 The Contemporary Arts Center Conference, 1980
3 2 De Facto Censorship: Covenant of Silence by Howardena Pindell, 1990
3 3 Ree Morton Scholarship Fund, 1977
3 4-5 Women's Caucus for Art, undated, 1973-1979

Series 4: Printed Material, 1984-1994
(Box 3; 0.15 linear feet)

This series houses announcements and brochures of exhibitions held at other venues, clippings, and miscellaneous printed material. Additional printed material is found in Series 1: Artists' Files, Series 2: Correspondence, and Series 3: Project Files.

Materials are arranged by format and thereafter filed in chronological order.

Box Folder
3 6-9 Announcements, undated, 1984-1994
3 10 Exhibition Brochures, undated, 1993-1994
3 11 Clippings, undated, 1985-1993
3 12-13 Miscellaneous Printed Material, undated, 1984-1987

Series 5: Photographs, 1985-1994
(Box 3; 0.2 linear feet)

This series houses photographs and a transparency of a work of by Frederico Guzman. Also included are slides of artwork by James Hill, Bill Schiffer, and an unidentified artist. Additional photographs are also located in Series 1: Artists' Files and Series 2: Correspondence.

Photographs are arranged by format and thereafter filed in chronological order..

Box Folder
3 14 Photographs, 1985, 1994
3 15 Slides of Artwork (undated, 1950-1994), undated
3 16 Transparency of Artwork (1994), undated