ARLIS/NA Mid-Atlantic

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America

Category: Exhibitions (page 1 of 11)

The Lillian Thomas Pratt Archives and Fabergé at VMFA

The Lillian Thomas Pratt ArchivesThe Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is happy to announce the launch of its first digital archive, which documents the formation of the museum’s world-renowned Fabergé and Russian decorative arts collection at http://faberge.vmfa.museum/. This project was made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence.

Bequeathed to the museum upon her death in 1947, Lillian Thomas Pratt’s Fabergé collection consistently remains one of the highlights of the museum’s permanent collection. In 1917, Pratt married her second husband, John Lee Pratt, a self-made millionaire engineer and businessman with General Motors. She began purchasing her collection of over 500 items, while accompanying her husband on business trips to New York City in the 1930s and 1940s. She eventually bought five of the 52 Russian Imperial Easter Eggs created by the Fabergé firm. Comprised of correspondence, invoices, price tags, and detailed item descriptions, the archive illuminates Pratt’s mind as a collector, as well as the close relationship she formed with New York based art dealers Alexander and Ray Schaffer, owners of the prominent art and antiques gallery A La Vieille Russie.

sc07_02_2_020_v1_tf_201512_o2In all, over 700 items have been digitized, resulting in 1,500 downloadable image files, all of which are available to the public via a new online portal dedicated to digital resources about Fabergé and Russian decorative arts. The website provides access to the digitized Pratt archive, newly filmed videos of the Imperial Easter Eggs opening, new 360° views of the Imperial Easter Eggs, and downloadable resources for educators. The website also links to the new free Fabergé at VMFA mobile application that allows users to explore the collection through five different historical perspectives and design and share a Fabergé mini egg.

Powered by Piction, the museum’s digital asset management system, the launch of the portal coincides with the highly anticipated return of the Fabergé collection, which will be displayed in a new suite of renovated galleries opening to the public on October 22.

Courtney Yevich Tkacz
Archivist
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library
200 N. Boulevard / Richmond, VA 23220-4007
T 804.340.1497 / F 804.340.1431
email: courtney.tkacz@vmfa.museum

Women of Influence: Elmira Bier, Minnie Byers, and Marjorie Phillips: an archival exhibition in the reading room of the Phillips Collection Library, opens April 8, 2016

Women of Influence: Elmira Bier, Minnie Byers, and Marjorie Phillips examines the critical role that each woman played in the day to day activities of The Phillips Collection, beginning in 1918 [Minnie Byers], 1921 [Marjorie Phillips] and 1923 [Elmira Bier] and continuing until 1963, when Minnie Byers retired, and 1972, when Elmira Bier and Marjorie Phillips retired.

Elmira Bier, Minnie Byers, and Marjorie Phillips

Elmira Bier, Minnie Byers, and Marjorie Phillips

ELMIRA BIER

Elmira Bier, who graduated from Goucher College, was Duncan Phillips’s executive assistant from 1923 to 1972. Fiercely protective of Phillips’s time, Bier took on many responsibilities, including serving as the first director of the music program, beginning in 1941. Despite her lack of formal training, Bier quickly established a widely acclaimed concert series that highlighted new performers and innovative music, which paralleled Duncan Phillips’s support of contemporary art. An article about Bier’s role at the Phillips stated that “she ran the place.”

MINNIE BYERS

Minnie Byers was a powerful executive before women played that role. With a background in business and knowledge about the stock market, she saved Phillips from the crash of 1929 by telling him to put his money in real estate. She started working for the Phillipses in 1918, initially providing financial advice to Phillips’s mother and later becoming treasurer of the museum. Byers commented, “I have a problem with Duncan. I can’t tell him how much money we have. He’ll go and spend it on works of art.” Byers educated herself and cautioned Phillips to not pay too much for works of art. “I invested their money wisely,” Byers said. Byers retired in 1963.

MARJORIE PHILLIPS

Marjorie Phillips (1894-1985), a painter who studied at the Art Students League in New York, was integral to the formation of The Phillips Collection. She became the co-founder of the museum following her marriage to Duncan Phillips in 1921. Phillips relied upon his wife’s artistic insight in making acquisition decisions. Marjorie gradually took on more responsibility for exhibitions in the 1960s as Duncan Phillips’s health declined. Despite her many obligations as director after Phillips’s death in 1966, Marjorie stated, “I was happy as long as I had some time to paint every day.”

Karen Schneider, Head Librarian, Phillips Collection

Older posts