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James S. Plaut papers, [ca. 1929]-1980

James S. Plaut papers, [ca. 1929]-1980

Plaut, James S. (James Sachs), 1912-1996

Museum director, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 1.4 linear ft.

Addition: 2.2 linear ft.

Reels 581 and 5139: Scrapbooks: 4 v.

Summary: Correspondence, business files, academic papers, photographs, clippings, sketchbook, sketches, and miscellaneous notes.

Biographical/Historical Note

Art administrator and museum director; Boston, Mass. Plaut was born to a wealthy family in Cincinnati, Ohio, graduated from HarvardCollege, and received an M.A. from Harvard University. His uncle was Paul Sachs, a connoisseur and influential museology professor at Harvard andsor. Plaut held curatorial positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and became Director of Boston's Institute of Modern Art in 1939 (later the Institute of Contemporary Art or ICA) where he staged early exhibitions of contemporary design and European avant-garde paintings and sculpture until his resignation in 1956. Plaut was also involved in many international exhibitions and expositions, serving as Deputy U.S. Commissioner to the World's Fair in Brussels, 1958, and was Secretary General of the World Crafts Council, 1967-1976 and a consultant on industrial design in Israel.


Scrapbooks on reel 581 lent for microfilming by Plaut, 1973; his estate, via the executor Edward M. Condit, Jr., lent those on reel 5139 in 1996. Plaut donated the unmicrofilmed material in 1985 and 1992, and additional papers were received as a bequest in 1996 via the executor of his estate.

Location of Originals

  • Reel 581: Originals returned to James Plaut after microfilming.
  • Reel 5139: Originals in the possession of Plaut's children, Susan P. Reed and Thomas S. Plaut.

Additional Forms Available

Microfilm reel 581 & 5139 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

James S. Plaut papers, [ca. 1929]-1980. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Selected Digitized Items