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Gabriella De Ferrari papers, 1931-2011, bulk 1975-2011

Gabriella De Ferrari papers, 1931-2011, bulk 1975-2011

De Ferrari, Gabriella, 1941-

Curator, Writer, Art historian

Collection Information

Size: 7.7 linear feet

Summary: The papers of art historian Gabriella De Ferrari measure 7.7 linear feet and date from 1931-2011, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1975-2011. The collection provides an overview of her activities as an arts administrator, writer, and a philanthropist through biographical materials, correspondence, interviews, extensive writings and notes, subject files, printed material, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Correspondence with artists, academic administrators, museum directors, curators, literary agents, editors, and publishers is primarily of a social nature, e.g., thank you notes, invitations, and congratulatory letters. Letters include references to De Ferrari's professional activities from circa 1975-circa 2006. There are illustrated letters and handmade birthday cards by De Ferrari, family, and friends. Among the correspondents are Michael Brenson, James Cuno, Francine Du Plessix Gray, Agnes Gund, Alex and Ada Katz, Sol and Carol Lewitt, and Glen Seator.

Writings and notes primarily document Gabriella De Ferrari's career as an author and include numerous drafts and annotated versions of her novels, short stories, memoir, and articles. Subject files include materials chronicling De Ferrari's activities at the Busch-Reisinger Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the Pan-American Society of New England. Also documented is her service as a Board of Trustees member, consultant, and advisor to major educational, corporate, and cultural institutions, including the New School University, United Technologies, Inc., and the Wadsworth Atheneum, among others. Interviews of De Ferrari are found on six sound cassettes. Additional audio cassettes and one videocassette are found within her writings.

Photographs are of Gabriella De Ferrari, family members, friends, and colleagues, including Michael Brenson, Leo Castelli, Agnes Gund, Martin Segal, Ingrid Sischy, Sol Lewitt, among others.

Biographical/Historical Note

Art historian Gabriella De Ferrari (1941-) has lived and worked in Boston, Massachusetts and New York City. De Ferrari was director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts. Full name is Maria Gariella De Ferrari.


The papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Gabriella De Ferrari, in 2011.

A Finding Aid to the Gabriella De Ferrari Papers, 1931-2011, bulk 1975-2011, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Art historian Gabriella De Ferrari (1941-) has lived and worked in Boston, Massachusetts and New York City.
Born in Tacna, Peru to Italian parents, De Ferrari graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Louis University in Missouri in 1963. She went on to receive a Master of Arts from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in 1966, and in 1981, she earned a Masters of Art in Fine Arts from Harvard University. De Ferrari has held administrative and curatorial positions at major museums and art organizations. At the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, she was curator of exhibitions before becoming the Director of the Institute in 1975. From 1978-1982, De Ferrari was Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs and Programs at the Fogg Museum and the Busch-Reisinger Museum, where her responsibilities included exhibition programs for twentieth century art and coordinating programs for corporate and public fundraising. In 1989, De Ferrari moved to New York City, where she established herself as a freelance writer. In 1990, her novel,
A Cloud on Sand
received a Barnes and Noble Discover Award.
Gringa Latina
, De Ferrari's memoir about her experience living in two cultures was published in 1994.
She has served on the Boards of Trustees and on the advisory committees of many leading institutions, including Colby College, City University Graduate Center Foundation, Harvard University Museum, the New School, and the Wadsworth Atheneum. From 2000-2006, she was the philanthropic advisor to the chairman and CEO of United Technologies Corporation. In 1996, De Ferrari was awarded the New School Medal for Distinguished Service, and in 2008, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Letters from Colby College.
Gabriella De Ferrari continues to reside in New York City.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 8 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1947-2003 (Boxes 1, 9; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1964-2011 (Boxes 1-2; 1.3 linear feet)
Series 3: Interviews, 1990-1996 (Box 2; 3 folders)
Series 4: Writings and Notes, 1950-2010 (Boxes 3-6; 3.6 linear feet)
Series 5: Subject Files, 1953-2008 (Boxes 6-7; 1 linear feet)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1961-2011 (Box 7; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 7: Scrapbooks, 1974-1981 (Box 9; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, 1931-circa 2010 (Box 8, 0.4 linear feet)
The papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Gabriella De Ferrari, in 2011.
Processing Information note
This collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared in 2013 by Joy Goodwin. The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series, subseries, and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. Folders within boxes were not numbered. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original material requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

Gabriella De Ferrari papers, 1931-2011, bulk 1975-2011. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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