Collection ID: Archives.Gardner.1

Collection context


Gardner, Albert Ten Eyck, Hyman, Linda, and Tomkins, Calvin, 1925-
1.67 Linear feet and (3 full-size document boxes, 2 half-size document boxes)
Preferred citation:

[Title of item], [date], Box [number], Folder [number], Albert Ten Eyck Gardner records, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives.


Scope and Content:

The Albert Ten Eyck Gardner records include general correspondence and answers to queries from curators at a wide range of American museums, documentation of his own gifts of materials to the Metropolitan Museum and other institutions, responses to requests for information on items in the Metropolitan’s collections, and some notes on the organization of the Museum Archives. The records also include articles, essays, and cartoons related to Gardner’s interest in the history of American museums collected by him from a variety of sources.

A significant portion of the records include research materials, notes, and drafts for Gardner’sPublications of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 1870-1964: a bibliography(1965) and the unpublished book,American Museum - A World Under Glass, his unpublished history of the Metropolitan Museum, and Centennial Timeline. A few of the latter materials are marked “Calvin” or “C.T,” it is assumed posthumously, for use by Calvin Tomkins in writingMerchants and Masterpieces: The Story of the Metropolitan Museum of Art(1970). A series of uncaptioned black and white snapshots document the planned location of the gallery for the Temple of Dendur on the Museum's northern edge, and, on the its southern edge, the area used for staging and storage during construction of the Sackler Wing that encloses the Temple of Dendur.

The records also include some documents that postdate Gardner’s death.

Biographical / Historical:

Albert Ten Eyck Gardner (1914-1967) served as research fellow in the Office of the Director (1941-1949), archivist and acting secretary (1949-1956), associate curator (1956-1966) and associate curator in charge of American Paintings and Sculpture (1966-1967), and associate curator of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's 100th Anniversary Committee (1967). In 1949 he was commissioned by Director Francis Henry Taylor to write a history of the American museum with a planned title ofAmerican Museum: A World Under Glass; and later by Director Thomas Hoving to write a history of the Metropolitan Museum planned for publication to mark the Museum’s centennial in 1970. Neither work was completed by the time of Gardner's sudden death in 1967. Calvin Tomkins was subsequently contracted by the Museum to complete the project, and Gardner’s notes were made available to him. Tomkins'Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of the Metropolitan Museum of Artwas published by E.P. Dutton during the centennial year, and revised and updated in 1989 (published by Henry Holt). It remains the most current authorized history of the Metropolitan Museum.

Educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Albert Ten Eyck Gardner began his museum career in 1931 as special assistant to the librarian at the Pennsylvania Museum of Art. While serving in 1931-1932 as private librarian for Paul J. Sachs, professor of art at Harvard University, Gardner took Sachs’s museum training course, “Museum Work and Museum Problems,” other students of which included, at various times, curators Alfred Barr and William Lieberman, and collector and dance impresario Lincoln Kirstein. By the 1940s, Gardner was considered a specialist in the history of American museums, and before coming to the Metropolitan had been on the staffs of the Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA; William Rockhill Nelson Gallery, Kansas City, MO; and Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA.

In 1944, Gardner married Elizabeth E. Carson, who, as Elizabeth E. Gardner, served as a research fellow (1948-1952), associate curator (1952-1965), and curator (1971-1985) in the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum. She was an expert in the history of collections of Italian paintings and coauthored, with Federico Zeri, a four-volume catalogue of Italian paintings at the Metropolitan. The couple was divorced at the time of Albert Ten Eyck Gardner’s death in 1967; Elizabeth E. Gardner died in 1985.

Gardner’s scholarly output included many articles and books, includingYankee stonecutters: the first American school of sculpture, 1800-1850(1945),A concise catalog of the American paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art(1957) revised in 1965,Winslow Homer, American artist: His world and his work(1961),American sculpture; a catalogue of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art(1965), andPublications of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1870-1964: a bibliography(1965). His writings on Metropolitan Museum history included “Metropolitan people and pictures”(Art NewsVol 52, no. 9, January 1954), and “Museum in motion” (The Metropolitan Museum of ArtBulletin, vol. 24, no. 1, Summer 1965, pp. 12-25).

Gardner organized more than forty exhibitions at the Metropolitan during his career, including “Paris Fashions between Two Wars: Drawings from a Collection Presented by C.J. Oppenheim” (1944), “Rodin and French Sculpture” (1957), “Drawings from John Singleton Copley” (1962), and, jointly with Stuart Feld, “Three Centuries of American Painting” (1965). He also collected avidly in the area of printed material on American museums, including prints, drawings, pamphlets, and other ephemera, and was a donor of such items to institutions including the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of the City of New York.

Works Consulted

“Albert Gardner, Art Curator, Dies.”New York Times, July 13, 1967.

Custodial history:

The Albert Ten Eyck Gardner records include manuscripts, records, and printed material from Gardner’s apartment that were returned to the Museum by his executor after his death; some folders from the papers of his ex-wife, Elizabeth E. Gardner, curator in the Department of European Paintings; and an address book donated by John K. Howat, Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of the Departments of American Art, at his retirement in 2001.


The records are arranged in two series: Series I. Correspondence and Related Material; Series II. Research and Writings.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard



Collection is open for research. Collection contains photographs that should be handled with gloves.


Copyright restrictions apply. Consult Archives staff regarding permission to quote or reproduce.


[Title of item], [date], Box [number], Folder [number], Albert Ten Eyck Gardner records, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives.

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