The Walters Art Museum

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The Archives of the Walters Art Museum

The Archives of the Walters Art Museum was begun in the early 1930's as a collection of papers, books, and photographs assembled to help the first curators sort through the massive collection of William T. and Henry Walters. Imagine the task that awaited the staff brought on board to study and to catalogue the 50,000 plus objects collected by father and son. Today, the Walters Art Museum Archives is a place where the records of the Walters family and the institutional records of the Walters Art Museum are preserved and studied. Generally divided into pre- and post- incorporation categories, here is a sampling of the holdings:

  • Correspondence between William T. Walters and the artists he patronized
  • Correspondence about Italian paintings between Henry Walters and Bernard Berenson
  • Architectural drawings including the original drawings for the Palazzo building built in 1908
  • Photographs of Walters family travels and of St. Mary's, the family estate in Govans, Maryland
  • Dealer's receipts and shipping documents, including those for the huge Massarenti Collection
  • A set of twenty two albums of photographs of the entire collection taken from 1908-1924
  • Rare sales catalogues from Kelekian, Seligman, Daguerre, Harding, Olschki, Gruel and others
  • Scrapbooks of press clippings about the Walters from 1917-1975
  • Records of the 1958 building campaign
  • Records of the early blockbuster exhibitions Byzantine Exhibition (1947), and The World Encompassed (1952)
  • Records of the 1974 expansion and building construction
  • A newly discovered photographic image of African-American Sculptor Edmonia Lewis

The early institutional records (1932-1947) also include the papers of the Directors Office, the Office of the Registrar, the records of the first curators: Dorothy Miner, Curator of Manuscripts; Dorothy Kent Hill, Curator of Ancient Art ; Marvin Chauncey Ross, Curator of Decorative Arts and of the Department of Conservation including the first conservators, Elizabeth Packard and David Rosen. Post 1932 image resources include twenty thousand glass lantern slides, public relations and event binders, and photographs of exhibitions and installations 1932-present.

The Archives is accessible by appointment only. Photocopy and scanning facilities are available. Some images may be under copyright restrictions. For more information, please contact:
curatorial@thewalters.com

Frequently Asked Questions about the Walters Archive

Q: How do I access the records?
A: The records are available by appointment. Requests made as far ahead as possible are appreciated in order to assure enough scheduled time. Please contact Elissa O'Loughlin, Senior Conservator 410-547-9000 x627 Email: eoloughlin@thewalters.org

Q: Are there finding aids for the records?
A: There are finding aids and box lists for most high intrinsic value records. The bulk of the post 1932 records have not yet been processed. All current finding aids are available in electronic format.

Q: What records have been digitized?
A: None of the WAM Archives are currently available in digital format. A small number of historical photographs have been scanned from second generation negatives and are available through Photo Services.

Q: How can I get more information about the history of the Walters? A: Two excellent resources are: The Reticent Collectors by William R. Johnston 1999 ISBN 0-8018-6040-7 Henry Walters and Bernard Berenson by Stanley Mazaroff ISBN -13:978-0-8010-9152-8 Both may be ordered from the Walters Museum Store.

Q. Where can I get information about other museum archives?
A. The Society of American Archivists has a Museum Archives section contact them at the website http://www.archivists.org/saagroups/museum/