Beaumont Newhall

Beaumont Newhall, Nancy Newhall, New York City, 1946, 1946.
© Beaumont Newhall, 1946. 78.30.5

Beaumont Newhall was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on June 22, 1908. Degrees in art history from Harvard (A.B. in 1930, M.A. in 1931) led to a brief stint as a lecturer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, then a position in the Department of Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. After further studies at the Institut d'Art et d'Archéologie, University of Paris and the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, Newhall was hired as the librarian at MOMA in 1935. In 1937, Newhall presented "Photography 1839-1937," an exhibition surveying the history of the medium that he had prepared at the invitation of Alfred H. Barr, the museum's director. An expanded version of Mr. Newhall's catalogue essay was published by the museum the following year as "Photography: A Short Critical History." A Guggenheim Foundation fellowship in 1947 enabled Newhall to enlarge this essay into a book, now titled "The History of Photography, 1839 to the Present." Revised by Newhall several times over the next 35 years, this book has become a standard general history of photography. Newhall was appointed the first curator of photography at MOMA in 1940, a position he held until 1945. From 1948 to 1958 Newhall was curator of the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House. He was its director from 1958 to 1971, during part of which time (1968-1971) he also professor of Art at State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1971, he moved to Albuquerque, where he became professor of Art at UNM until 1984. He was appointed professor emeritus upon his retirement. He died at his home in Santa Fe, from complications from a stroke, February 26, 1993.

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