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Harvard Art Museums Archives

The Harvard Art Museums Archives is the official repository for institutional records and historical documents in all formats relating to the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Its mission is to manage and preserve these materials, and make them accessible to staff, students, faculty, and the public in accordance with the policies of the Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College. The Archives serves as a center for research at the museums, charged with documenting and promoting knowledge and appreciation of the institution’s history, programs and goals, and the professional and personal accomplishments of its principals.

Archival materials supply a vital complementary narrative to the works of art in the collections, recording their acquisition, history, and use. Archives’ collections include significant papers of individuals and groups associated with the museums’ history, as well as correspondence with collectors, gallery owners, museum professionals, and notables throughout the twentieth century, including Alfred Barr, Bernard Berenson, Belle da Costa Greene, Lincoln Kirstein, Helen Frick, and Abby and John D. Rockefeller. The Archives also houses papers of artists Alfonso Ossorio, David Smith, and Denman W. Ross, among others, and holds the records of the Howard Wise Gallery, a major venue for kinetic art in the 1960s.

Archives’ holdings also provide insight into the formation of the museums’ collections and our mission as a teaching institution. In the early 20th century, Harvard arguably became the premier U.S. training ground for curators, conservators, and other museum professionals; the Archives’ collections of teaching-related materials serve as rich resources for the study of the pedagogical approaches of the museums’ teaching staff.

Accessing the Archives
The Harvard Art Museums Archives are open to the public Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm, by appointment only. Researchers must contact the Archives as far in advance of a visit as possible; a minimum of three weeks is requested, and appropriate identification is required. To request an appointment, please contact the Archives at am_reference@harvard.edu or 617-495-2384.