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Jan Van der Marck papers, 1942-2010

Biographical Note

Jan Van der Marck (1929-2010) was a curator and museum administrator in Detroit, Mich., Chicago, Ill., and Miami, Fla.
Van der Marck was born in Roermond, the Netherlands, in 1929. His family owned a printing and publishing business. He studied art history at the University of Nijmegen and earned his doctorate in 1956 with a dissertation on 19th-century Belgian book illustration. In 1957 he came to the United States on a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to research the relationship between museums and their audiences and studied briefly at Columbia University. In 1962 he was assistant director of fine arts exhibitions at the Seattle World's Fair. Van der Marck became curator at the Walker Art Center in 1963 and became the founding director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 1967. While in Chicago he invited Christo and Jeanne-Claude to wrap the museum building in canvas. He later served as project manager for their "Valley Curtain" project in 1971 and 1972.
After leaving the Museum of Contemporary Art, Van der Marck worked briefly at the University of Washington in Seattle, and then served as director of the Dartmouth College Galleries and Collections from 1974 to 1980. At Dartmouth he continued to support non-traditional artworks and oversaw the installation of the lawn sculpture "X-Delta" by Mark di Suvero, despite negative campus reactions. In 1980 he became the director of the new Center for the Fine Arts in Miami. After a disagreement with trustees he left the Center and became chief curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1986. In 1995 he lost his job at the Detroit Institute when it was ruled that he violated a city residential requirement.
Aside from his work as an arts administrator, Van der Marck wrote and published many catalog essays, articles, and monographs on artists, lectured on contemporary art, and participated in arts organizations. He also maintained an interest in contemporary bookbinding.