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Porter A. McCray papers, 1939-1989

Porter A. McCray papers, 1939-1989

McCray, Porter A., 1908-2000

Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 11.4 linear feet

Summary: The papers of New York City arts administrator Porter A. McCray measure 11.4 linear feet and date from 1936 to 1989. The papers include scattered biographical materials, correspondence, and writings and notes. The bulk of the collection consists of professional files documenting his advisory and consulting work for museums, institutions, organizations, and foundations. Also found within the collection are printed materials and photographs of McCray and artwork.

Scattered biographical materials include appointment books, cirriculum vitaes, a transcript of an interview conducted by McCray with Dr. Grace Morley, and an unsigned painting.

Found within the general correspondence are letters that relate to his work as an arts advisor and consultant, but which appear to be more personal in nature. The bulk of correspondence related to specific projects is found within the professional files. Correspondents include Hubert Humphrey, Mrs. John Lockwood, Grace Morely, Kazuko Oshima, Donald Richie, John D. Rockefeller III, and Tenzin Thetong among others.

Writings and notes include lectures by McCray and writings by others including Brock Cutting, Lord Sherfield, and Nam June Paik. Also found are travel notes for McCray's travels throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Professional files document McCray's work as an arts advisor and consultant for numerous museums, foundations, organizations, foundations, and special committees, as well as his membership in various arts committees and boards. Files document McCray's work for and/or membership in the Asia Society, Asian Cultural Program of Cultural Exchange, Byrd Hoffman Foundation, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Cunningham Dance Foundation, Indo-United States committees, International Council of Museums, Japan Society, John D. Rockefeller 3rd Fund, Museum of Modern Art, Society of Architectural Historians, UNESCO, and the United States Foreign Service.

Printed materials include clippings and articles, a "Drawing and Architecture" exhibition catalog, and a book by Robert Wilson. Photographs include personal photographs and oversized photographs of sculptures by an unknown artist.

Biographical/Historical Note

Porter A. McCray (1908-2000) was an arts administrator based in New York City, New York.


The collection was donated in 1994 by Porter McCray.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

A Finding Aid to the Porter A. McCray Papers, 1936-1989, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Porter A. McCray (1908-2000) was an arts administrator working in New York City, New York.
Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia in 1908, McCray recieved a degree in English literature from the Virginia Military Institute in 1930, and a degree in architecture from Yale University in 1941. McCray traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, developing relationships with individuals and organizations across the world.
In 1941, McCray worked as an exhibition specialist in the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and collaborated with the Museum of Modern Art on an American exhibition at the Guatemala National Fair. After serving as an ambulance driver in World War II, he was employed by the architectural firm of Harrison and Abramovitz where he worked on some preliminary designs of the present site of the United Nations.
While working for Harrison, McCray met Nelson Rockefeller, who was chairman of the board of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). In 1947, Rockefeller asked McCray to serve as the director of circulating exhibitions at MOMA and be responsible for the Museum's national and international traveling exhibition program. McCray accepted and remained at MOMA until 1961. The following year, he orchestrated the preparation of a MOMA exhibition of Mark Rothko's work in Paris in 1962. In 1963, McCray became the executive director of the JDR 3rd Fund, a non-profit started by John D. Rockefeller III to promote artistic and cultural exchanges between the United States and Asia. McCray also worked as a consultant for the Japan Society's visual arts programs, the Asian Cultural Council, for the dean of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine's visual and performing arts program, and for MOMA's International Program after retiring.
McCray died in 2000 in Hightstown, New Jersey.
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 6 series.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1959-1982 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1959-1986 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1960-1983 (1.5 linear feet; Box 2-3)
Series 4: Professional Files, 1936-1987 (8.2 linear feet; Box 3-11, OVS 12-13)
Series 5: Printed Materials, 1965-1989 (0.5 linear feet; Box 11, OV 14)
Series 6: Photographs, 1945-1980s (0.2 linear feet; Box 11, OV 15)
The collection was donated in 1994 by Porter McCray.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2015 with funding from the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund, using accelerated processing strategies recently implemented by the Archives to increase information about and access to more of our collections. For this collection, accelerated processing included arrangement to the series, subseries and folder levels, adhering to the creator's original arrangement as much as possible. Generally, folder contents were simply verified with the original folder titles, but items within folders were not arranged further. All materials were rehoused in archival folders and boxes for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Porter A. McCray papers, 1939-1989. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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