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The Art of Curating: Paul J. Sachs and the Museum Course at Harvard

Sally Anne Duncan and Andrew McClellan

From 1921 until 1948, Paul J. Sachs (1878–1965) offered a yearlong program in art museum training, “Museum Work and Museum Problems,” through Harvard University’s Fine Arts Department. Known simply as the Museum Course, the program was responsible for shaping a professional field—museum curatorship and management—that, in turn, defined the organizational structure and values of an institution through which the American public came to know art. Conceived at a time of great museum expansion and public interest in the United States, the Museum Course debated curatorial priorities and put theory into practice through the placement of graduates in museums big and small across the land. In this book, authors Sally Anne Duncan and Andrew McClellan examine the role that Sachs and his program played in shaping the character of art museums in the United States in the formative decades of the twentieth century.

The Art of Curatingis essential reading for museum studies scholars, curators, and historians. 

Sally Anne Duncan was visiting professor of art history and museum studies at Plymouth State College. Andrew McClellan is professor of art history at Tufts University. He is the author of The Art Museum from Boulée to Bilbao. 

2019 New England Society Book Award Winner, Art & Photography

The Art of Curating  is a fascinating dive in Harvard and the Paul J. Sachs’s impact on the formation of American art museums in the twentieth century. For anyone interested in the history of museums or pedagogical concerns across the early to mid-twentieth century, there will be fascinating nuggets of wisdom and much to learn. The book is a much-needed addition to any American art or institutional critique syllabus.”
Journal of Curatorial Studies

" . . . the authors have steered a judicious path between the honorific and the circumspect in their story of a course that, a century later, is all the more interesting to consider."
The New Criterion

“This book is a compelling read for curators, academic art historians, museum studies scholars, and anyone interested in the history of art museums, the people behind them, and the historiography of art history.”
New Books network

“A rich and comprehensive study.”
The Art Newspaper

272 pages 
8 x 10 inches
124 b/w illustrations, 1 map
ISBN 978-1-60606-569-3

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Research Institute