Collection context


Victor D'Amico; The Museum of Modern Art Department of Education
Documentation of the founding Director (1937-1969) of MoMA's Department of Education and the Department's programs during his tenure: exhibitions and teaching materials circulated by the New York City High Schools Program, classes at the War Veterans' Art Center and People's Art Center, the Children's Art Carnival at MoMA and overseas, and summer art classes at the Art Barge; D'Amico's extra-MoMA involvement in progressive museum art education, including his articles, speeches, and participation in the National Committee for Art Education; as well as personal writings, correspondence, honors, and awards.
The records are in English .
Preferred citation:

Published citations should take the following form:

Long version: Victor D'Amico Papers, [series.folder]. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York.

Short version: VDA, [series.folder]. MoMA Archives, NY.


Scope and Content:

The Victor D'Amico Papers document activities of the founding director of MoMA's Department of Education, and include photographs, correspondence, audio and videotapes, clippings, draft and completed publications, as well as personal documents, awards, and honors. They also provide information on D'Amico's non-MoMA involvement in education, including his professional writings, speeches, and conference presentations, especially related to the National Committee for Art Education. Most of the collection was received by the Museum Archives from Teachers College, to which it had been donated in 1987 by Victor D'Amico's widow Mabel. It also includes materials that had remained at MoMA after his retirement.

The collection is rich in photographic documentation of D'Amico's best-known programs at MoMA: classes and exhibitions of artwork created at the War Veterans' Art Center, People's Art Center, The Art Barge, and Children's Art Carnival (both at MoMA and overseas) in the 1950s and 1960s; and the extensive program of circulating exhibitions distributed through MoMA's New York City High Schools Program from the 1940s into the early 1970s. The range and variety of photographs are evidence of the extensive publicity that introduced and promoted these programs worldwide, helping to promulgate D'Amico's progressive ideal of art education for a range of populations: children, adults, families, veterans, and seniors.

Biographical / Historical:

A chronology of D'Amico's accomplishments, as well as MoMA activities and programs during his tenure that are relevant to information and items in the Victor D'Amico Papers, is included here:

Date Event
1904 Born May 19, New York City
1920-1922 Attends Cooper Union, studying fine arts, illustration, and costume design
1924-1926 Attends Pratt Institute, studying art education
1926-1930 Attends Teachers College of Columbia University
1926-1948 Head of Art Department, Fieldston School
1932-1942 Graduate student and adjunct faculty member, Teachers College of Columbia University
1934 Member, General Education Board; conducts 1935 national survey for Rockefeller Foundation: "Art in American Schools"
1937 MoMA initiates "Educational Project" as 2-year pilot, with D'Amico hired part-time as Director while also serving as art teacher at Fieldston School
1937-1948 Young People's Gallery instituted; this space later houses Children's Art Carnival
1937-1970 New York City High Schools Program (joint project of the New York City Board of Education and MoMA) distributes educational material to local high schools. Its expansion between 1937 and 1948 is funded by the Whitney Foundation, General Education Board, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
1939 Department of Education formally inaugurated; Young People's Gallery moves into new Museum building
1939-1945 Future MoMA Director William Rubin studies under D'Amico at Fieldston School
1940 Publishes, with Thomas Munro,Visual Arts in General Education
1940 MoMA holds first classes onsite
1941 25 New York City public high schools are receiving 29 circulating exhibitions
1942 March: First Children's Festival of Modern Art held in a tent in the MoMA garden
1942 PublishesCreative Teaching in Art(revised 1953)
1942 MoMA sponsors Committee on Art in American Education and Society, chaired by D'Amico (later Committee of Art Education, then National Committee on Art Education, and Institute for the Study of Art in Education). Its annual conferences are held at MoMA and other venues.
1942-1954 Children's Holiday Art Carnivals held at MoMA
Summer 1944-June 1948 War Veterans' Art Center, sponsored by Mrs. John D. (Abby Aldrich) Rockefeller, Jr., and Trustee Stephen C. Clark, eventually involves 1,485 participants in quarters first on W. 56th Street and then at 681 Fifth Avenue. The space doubles as children's education location, with adjustable-height desks designed by D'Amico.
1947 Publishes, with Julia Hamlin Duncan,How to Make Pottery and Ceramic Sculpture
June 1948 Veteran's Art Center moves to 21 West 53rd Street; renamed People's Art Center
1948 Resigns from Fieldston and is employed full time at MoMA
1949 Publishes, with Charles J. Martin,How to Make Modern Jewelry
1950 First parent/child classes held in People's Art Center
September 1951 People's Art Center moves to 2nd and 3rd floors of Philip-Johnson-designed MoMA office space at 21 West 53rd Street
1951 Publishes, with Kendall T. Basset and Arthur B. Thurman,How to Make Objects of Wood
1952-1953 NBC television program for children and parents "Through the Enchanted Gate" introduces family art activities to a national audience. A printed guide is distributed to families to help them continue the activities at home, and offers the opportunity to submit works of art for display on the program.
1954 Publishes, with Moreen Maser and Frances Wilson,Art for the Family
1955 MoMA first offers summer art classes at Ashawagh Hall, Springs, Long Island, near the D'Amicos' summer home; then on bargeKearsargein Napeague Harbor, Amagansett
1955 Special study program is inaugurated to explore problems in teaching art and to circulate the findings to teachers and schools through reports, publications, and visual aids
1956 First Summer Vacation Painting Classes for parents and children held on Long Island
1957 Children's Art Carnival commissioned for international trade fairs in Milan and Barcelona
1957 PublishesArt of the Young Child(2nd edition 1960; 3rd revised edition 1968)
1958 Children's Art Carnival featured in U.S. Pavilion of Brussels World's Fair under auspices of U.S Department of Commerce
1960 MoMA's Modern Art Institute formed, assuming responsibility for the Museum's school program
1960 Serves as Chairman, National Committee on Art Education
1960 PublishesExperiments in Creative Art Teaching
1960-1972 MoMA's art teaching center on bargeKearsarge("The Art Barge") is run under the sponsorship of MoMA by The Institute of Modern Art
1961 People's Art Center is operated as an activity of the newly formed Institute of Modern Art, which extends and expands various activities of the Department of Education at MoMA and elsewhere
Winter 1962 Children's Art Carnival donated, at Indira Gandhi's request, to National Children's Museum of India (Delhi) by the Asia Society and the International Council of MoMA; presented by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy
October 1963 Opens Children's Art Carnival in New Delhi, which also trains Indian teachers in art education
1963-1966 Classes at Art Barge for teachers are taught under auspices of New York University
1964 Philip Johnson designs additional new space for Department of Education programs; People's Art Center (classrooms and gallery space) moves to east wing at 4 West 54th Street
1965 Newly created International Society for Art Education takes over MoMA's leadership role in National Committee for Art Education
1965-1972 Teaches workshops for teachers at New York University
1967 Classes at Art Barge for teachers are taught under auspices of Southampton College
1968 John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, Fund partially underwrites planned Children's Art Caravan, contingent on additional funding
May 1969 MoMA announces changes in its educational services to follow D'Amico's retirement, including expansion of programs for schoolchildren to visit the Museum, teacher training, and schools programs in disadvantaged areas, replacing the previous programs for children and adults
1969 Children's Art Carnival established as teaching center in Harlem, sponsored by MoMA and Harlem School of the Arts: Betty Blayton Taylor, Executive Director
1969 Retires from MoMA
1970 Begins teaching classes for grade school teachers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
1971 Napeague Institute of Art formed to run Art Barge summer programs; MoMA is landlord of barge until 1982
1973 Children's Art Carnival of Harlem becomes a separate entity
1982 Napeague Institute of Art renamed Victor D'Amico Institute of Art
1987 Dies April 1, in Southampton, New York
Acquisition information:
The bulk of the Victor D'Amico Papers were received by the Museum Archives in 2011 from Columbia University Teachers' College, to which they had been donated by Mabel D'Amico after her husband's death in 1987. Beginning in 2007, MoMA, together with The Art Barge and Teachers' College, entered into a series of discussions regarding the Papers' ultimate location. The MoMA Archives was determined to be their logical location, due to the extensive documentation of Museum program activities contained within the Papers. Five boxes of materials were received from former MoMA art teacher Arlette Buchman in January 2012. That year, various materials stored at MoMA by the Department of Education and Photographic Archive were determined to have been previously separated from the D'Amico records and were included for processing with the Victor D'Amico Papers.
Processing information:

Materials have been rehoused in archival folders and appropriate-sized boxes, according to accepted professional practice. Paperclips and staples were removed. Photographs, transparencies, and negatives were rehoused, individually or in groups, in Mylar sleeves. Fragile and difficult to handle sizes of newspaper clippings have been preservation photocopied and the originals discarded. Other acidic materials were enclosed or isolated as appropriate. Personal and financial papers were evaluated for inclusion based on archival standards for the retention of records of enduring value. Water-damaged and mildewed transparencies were discarded. Images depicting student art work, which do not relate to specific programs or show students at work, have been transferred to the Department of Education for internal use. Meeting minutes have been removed per the Museum Archives' Access Policy.


As received from Teachers College in 2011 (see Note on Provenance), the D'Amico Papers were primarily organized by material type: correspondence, photographs, audiovisual items, and published materials were grouped together in storage cartons. Many of the photographs had been removed from their original housing and numbered for other purposes. These materials are now arranged, together with other items that remained at MoMA after D'Amico's retirement, to document projects and programs of the Department of Education initiated while he was Director (Series I-VII); and his professional and personal activities during and after his tenure at MoMA (Series VIII-XI).

The collection is arranged in 11 series:

  • Series I. Department of Education Administration,1938-1973
  • Series II. New York City High Schools Program,[1940s]-1974Subseries II.A. General Background,[1940s]-1971Subseries II.B. Alphabetical List of Exhibitions and Slide Programs Distributed to Schools,1941-1974
  • Series III. Art Education at MoMA,1920s-1982 (bulk 1944-1968)Subseries III.A. War Veterans' Art Center,1944-1949Subseries III.B. Slide Talks,1943-1960sSubseries III.C. Art Classes General,1920s-1982 (bulk 1941-1970)
  • Series IV. Children's Art Carnival and Caravan,1940s-1979 (bulk 1942-1965)Subseries IV.A. Children's Art Carnival,1940s-1979 (bulk 1942-1965)Subseries IV.A.i. MoMA and General,1942-1979Subseries IV.A.ii. Milan,1956-1957Subseries IV.A.iii. Barcelona,1957Subseries IV.A.iv. Brussels,1958-1959Subseries IV.A.v. Harlem,1960-1978Subseries India,1960s-1964, 1969Subseries IV.A.vii. Multiple Locations,1940s-1960sSubseries IV.B. "Through the Enchanted Gate,"1952-[1953]Subseries IV.C. Children's Art Caravan,1960s-1974
  • Series V. Art Barge,1950s-2011 (bulk 1955-1980s)
  • Series VI. Exhibitions,1938-1969
  • Series VII. MoMA Publications,1941-1972
  • Series VIII. Professional Involvement,1935-1980, 1985, 1996 (bulk 1948-1968)Subseries VIII.A. Education General,1935-1980, 1985, 1996Subseries VIII.B. Education-Related Correspondence,1947-1969Subseries VIII.C. National Committee on Art Education,1943-1969
  • Series IX. Speeches and Writings,1926-1982 (bulk 1938-1970)
  • Series X. Personal,1945-1985, 1987, 2003Subseries X.A. Personal Records and Correspondence,1945-1946, 1951-1985, 2003Subseries X.B. Awards and Honors,1951-1953, 1964-1981, 1987
  • Series XI. Printed Materials,1936-1995



The records are open for research and contain few restricted materials.


The Victor D'Amico Papers are the physical property of The Museum of Modern Art. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.


Published citations should take the following form:

Long version: Victor D'Amico Papers, [series.folder]. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York.

Short version: VDA, [series.folder]. MoMA Archives, NY.

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