Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, The National Gallery Of Art, And The Reinvention Of The Museum…

Paperback | October 26, 2016

byNeil Harris

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American art museums flourished in the late twentieth century, and the impresario leading much of this growth was J. Carter Brown, director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, from 1969 to 1992.  Along with S. Dillon Ripley, who served as Smithsonian secretary for much of this time, Brown reinvented the museum experience in ways that had important consequences for the cultural life of Washington and its visitors as well as for American museums in general. In Capital Culture, distinguished historian Neil Harris provides a wide-ranging look at Brown’s achievement and the growth of museum culture during this crucial period.

Harris combines his in-depth knowledge of American history and culture with extensive archival research, and he has interviewed dozens of key players to reveal how Brown’s showmanship transformed the National Gallery. At the time of the Cold War, Washington itself was growing into a global destination, with Brown as its devoted booster. Harris describes Brown’s major role in the birth of blockbuster exhibitions, such as the King Tut show of the late 1970s and the National Gallery’s immensely successful Treasure Houses of Britain, which helped inspire similarly popular exhibitions around the country. He recounts Brown’s role in creating the award-winning East Building by architect I. M. Pei and the subsequent renovation of the West building. Harris also explores the politics of exhibition planning, describing Brown's courtship of corporate leaders, politicians, and international dignitaries.

In this monumental book Harris brings to life this dynamic era and exposes the creation of Brown's impressive but costly legacy, one that changed the face of American museums forever.

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American art museums flourished in the late twentieth century, and the impresario leading much of this growth was J. Carter Brown, director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, from 1969 to 1992.  Along with S. Dillon Ripley, who served as Smithsonian secretary for much of this time, Brown reinvented the museum experience ...

Neil Harris is the Preston and Sterling Morton Professor of History and Art History Emeritus at the University of Chicago. His books include The Artist in American Society; Humbug: The Art of P. T. Barnum; Cultural Excursions: Marketing Appetites and Cultural Tastes in Modern America; and The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:616 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.6 inPublished:October 26, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022643446X

ISBN - 13:9780226434469

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1       Becoming Carter Brown
Chapter 2       The National Gallery: Directions and Deviations
Chapter 3       Stalking the Prey: The Quest for Old Masters
Chapter 4       The Secretary Arrives: Dillon Ripley and the Smithsonian Challenge
Chapter 5       Reinventing the National Gallery: Creating the East Building
Chapter 6       “What Hath Brown Wrought?”
Chapter 7       Presenting King Tut 
Chapter 8       Trouble in Paradise: The Light That Failed
Chapter 9       Exhibiting Strategies 
Chapter 10     The Secretary Carries On: Consolidating Dillon Ripley’s Administration
Chapter 11     Minister of Culture: Shaping Washington
Chapter 12     “Treasure Houses of Britain”: The Anatomy of an Exhibition
Chapter 13     Campaigns and Conquests
Chapter 14     Goodbye Columbus: Celebrating the Quincentenary
Chapter 15     Retirement Projects   

Postscript

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“In this ‘institutional biography,’ Harris views the evolution of the American museum experience through the career of J. Carter Brown, the director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC between 1969 and 2002. . . . By the close of this fine study, one can’t but enjoy the gorgeous incongruity of Brown’ populism.”