Size: 2.3 Linear feet
Summary: The papers of art historian, curator and painter, Abram Lerner measure 2.3 linear feet and date from circa 1930 to 2006. The collection is comprised primarily of documents related to Lerner's tenure at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, including the years leading up to the museum's opening in 1974. Also included are professional files and correspondence following Abram Lerner's departure from the museum in 1984, as well as exhibition files, photographic materials and watercolor and sketchbooks reflecting his career as an artist.
Abram Lerner (1913-2007) was an art historian, curator, and painter in Washington, DC. Born to Russian immigrants in New York City, Lerner received a bachelor's degree in art history from New York University in 1934. Lerner worked as an apprentice muralist in the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and after pursued a career as an exhibiting artist through the 1950s. In 1955 while working as a director at an art gallery he met Joseph Hirshhorn, who he came to work for on his art collection. Eventually this relationship led to Lerner becoming the founding director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Park, Smithsonian Institution, in 1974. After ten years as director Lerner retired to his seasonal home in Southampton, NY in 1984. He lived there with his wife Pauline, who he was married to from 1943, until she passed away in 2003. Lerner passed away from heart failure in his home in Canaan, CT in 2007.
Donated 2018 by Aline Libassi, Abram Lerner's daughter.
Also found at the Archives of American art is an oral history interview with Abram Lerner, 1975 Dec. 9-1976 Jan. 27, conducted by Paul Cummings. The Smithsonian Institution Archives maintains the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Papers, circa 1926-1982, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection Archive is maintained by the curatorial department of the museum.