The Reel to Reel Collection
A Long-Awaited Tribute: Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian House and Pavilion on view now at the Sackler Center.
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The Reel to Reel Collection: Historic audio clips from the Museum Archives
In 1953, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (SRGM), under the directorship of James Johnson Sweeney, announced the inauguration of a series of free art lectures and gallery tours in connection with its educational programs. The first regularly scheduled series of illustrated lectures on modern art at the museum began in 1961 under the directorship of Thomas M. Messer. Distinguished speakers in these first lectures included Messer; Clement Greenberg, art critic; H.H. Arnason, Vice-President for Art Administration at SRGM; and James A. Michener, popular author and collector.
In following years, the regularly scheduled lectures given by guest speakers and museum staff were supplemented by special lecture series on various artists. Often held in connection with exhibitions, these series profiled the work of artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Vasily Kandinsky, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso, Robert Motherwell, Juan Gris, and Julio Gonzalez. The lectures also expanded to include artists working in disciplines other than the visual arts; from 1964 to 1975, the Academy of American Poets sponsored poetry readings at SRGM.
In the 1970s, the Guggenheim collaborated with WNYC to produce "Round and About the Guggenheim," an interview program moderated by Mimi Poser. This program was directed toward a popular audience and designed to acquaint listeners with events in the art world, in particular, at SRGM. Participants in the series included artists, art historians, gallery and auction house owners, and private collectors.
The Hilla Rebay Lecture Series was established in 1978 under the museum's auspices by the Hilla von Rebay Foundation to bring distinguished scholars to SRGM. The inaugural lecture was given by Sir Ernest Gombrich in 1980 on "Image and Word in Twentieth Century Art." Series lecturers included speakers such as Douglas Cooper, Pierre Schneider, Robert L. Herbert, Leo Steinberg, and John E. Bowlt.
The Reel to Reel collection is 21 cubic feet and consists of 675 reel-to-reel audiotapes documenting museum lectures, symposia, and radio shows from 1952 to 1990.
With the generous support of a 2009-2011 National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) detailed processing grant and New York Public Radio, the Museum Archives is digitizing the bulk of the collection. In this section are select audio clips with more to be posted later this year.