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Ruth Bowman papers, 1936-2006, bulk 1963-1999

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Catherine Gaines
Scope and Contents
The papers of art historian and museum educator Ruth Bowman are dated 1936-2006, bulk 1963-1999, and measure 26.7 linear feet and 21.99 GB. Professional correspondence and subject files document Bowman's relationships with colleagues and reflect her interests, activities including curatorial work, and accomplishments as a museum educator. Writing and related research materials include her thesis, "Thomas Pollock Anshutz, 1851-1912" (M.A., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1971), and unfinished projects. Also found are interviews conducted by Bowman with a wide range of individuals for a variety of purposes.
Biographical materials consist of certificates, resumes, and a few photographs of Ruth Bowman. Correspondence concerns Bowman's professional activities and interests. Among the most frequent correspondents are: American Association of Museums, Craft and Folk Art Museum (Los Angeles), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art.
Writings by Ruth Bowman, published and unpublished, include a thesis and articles about Thomas Pollock Anshutz, catalogs for American Federation of Arts and The Newark Museum exhibitions, lectures, as well as articles about museum education and visual arts programs. Research relates to her writings about Anshutz, and to unrealized projects concerning Anshutz, C├ęzanne, Eakins, Picasso, and other subjects. Also found are two brief writings about Bowman.
Subject files--general subjects, artists' files, Ruth Bowman activities, and "Sunrise Semester"--contain the majority of Bowman's professional correspondence along with printed material, writings, photographs, and sound recordings. Among the most thoroughly documented general subjects are: The Brooklyn Museum's Trustees Retreat, Canadian Museums Association, a 1981 Craft Symposium, International Network for the Arts, Long Beach Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "Museum Directors' Forum", New York University Art Collection, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Council for the Arts. Artists' files are comprised mainly of printed material with a small amount of correspondence and some photographs. The Les Levine file consists of the first issue of Art-Rite featuring a brief article about Levine on its cover; Thomas Wilfred's file includes information about Lumia. Ruth Bowman activities include lectures, radio and television appearances, and participation in professional events. "Sunrise Semester," a collaboration between CBS television and New York University, offered early morning courses for college credit. Ruth Bowman was the instructor for "20th Century American Art," which is documented by general information, scripts, and sound recordings of all 46 classes.
Interviews conducted by Bowman are with English museum administrators and educators; people knowledgeable about a controversial proposal for an Annenberg Fine Arts Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; guests on KUSC radio shows "Sounds of Seeing" and "Live from Trump's"; and guests on the WNYC radio program "Views on Art." Interviews with miscellaneous individuals include Josef Albers, Hans Burkhardt, Carl Holty, Isamu Noguchi, and Helen Farr Sloan. Bowman interviewed a dozen American abstract artists, including Ilya Bolotowsky, Rosalind Bengelsdorf Browne, Burgoyne Diller, John Ferren, Carl Holty, Harry Holtzman, Ibram Lassaw, Jacques Lipchitz, Alice Mason, George McNeil, George L. K. Morris, and Ad Reinhardt for a thesis on the subject, but eventually wrote on a different topic. Two interviews with Bowman were conducted by Duncan MacDonald and an unidentified interviewer.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Ruth Bowman in 2004.
Processing Information
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared in 2013 by Catherine S. Gaines. Born-digital materials were processed in 2019 by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.