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Oral history interview with H. Harvard Arnason, 1970 March 3-9

Arnason, H. Harvard, 1909-1986

Author, Arts administrator, Art historian


Collection Information

Size: 44 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 30 min.

Summary: An interview of H. Harvard Arnason conducted 1970 March 3-9, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art. Arnason speaks of his family and educational background; the influence of the WPA Federal Art Project on museums; lecturing at the Frick Collection and Hunter College; his work as U.S. representative of UNESCO; his teaching positions and his roles as director of the Walker Art Center and trustee and vice president of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. He comments on Frank Lloyd Wright's design for the Guggenheim Museum building; competition among New York museums; conceptual art and museums; and the museum as a research center. He recalls Holger Cahill, Thomas M. Messer, Hilla Rebay, James Johnson Sweeney and others. Arnason also describes his writing projects, including his "History of Modern Art."

Biographical/Historical Note

H. Harvard Arnason (1909-1986) was an historian, writer, and a former director of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.


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.

Language Note

English .

How to Use This Collection

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with H. Harvard Arnason, 1970 March 3-9. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.