The objective of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives is to collect, organize, and preserve in perpetuity the corporate records and official correspondence of the Museum, to make the collection accessible and provide research support, and to further an informed and enduring understanding of the Museum's history. Archives holdings include Board of Trustees records, legal documents, Museum publications, office files of selected Museum staff, architectural drawings, press clippings, and ephemera.
Durr Friedley was a staff member of the Department of Decorative Arts of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1911 until 1917, serving as an assistant, Assistant Curator and Acting Curator. Records consist primarily of correspondence regarding prospective Museum acquisitions. Items of special interest include letters concerning the Museum’s acquisition of early American colonial furnishings, later displayed in the American Wing.
Joseph Breck (1885–1933) served The Metropolitan Museum of Art as Assistant Curator in the Department of Decorative Arts (1909-1914), Curator of the Department of Decorative Arts (1917-1933), Assistant Director of the Museum (1917-1933) and Director of The Cloisters (1932-1933). He was closely involved with the original building plans and collection arrangement for The Cloisters. Breck was associated with numerous exhibitions, most notably the Industrial Arts Exhibitions (1918-1929). Breck was responsible for many acquisitions primarily in the field of Decorative Arts. A prolific writer, he is credited with over 200 scholarly papers, pamphlets, publications, and lectures in the fields of textiles, sculpture, furniture, as well as exhibition planning, display techniques and presentation. The Joseph Breck Records document his numerous roles within The Metropolitan Museum of Art and includes correspondence and inter-office memos with museum staff, correspondence with collectors, dealers and lenders of objects; article drafts, reports, pamphlets, catalogs and other published materials.
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.
The J. Kenneth Loughry records contain documents from the Treasurer's office, including financial and investment-related reports, and correspondence related to the Metropolitan Museum’s Finance Committee from 1949 to 1962. They also include Loughry’s correspondence with Museum trustees and staff members and materials pertaining to the activities of the Cultural Institutions Group, of which the Metropolitan was a member organization, especially related to employee pension and insurance issues. The records include one folder each of budgetary analyses of the proposed merger of The Metropolitan Museum of Art with The Whitney Museum of American Art in 1944 and the Metropolitan’s centennial celebrations in 1970.
James Parker (1924-2001) began his career as a specialist in European decorative arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1951, was appointed assistant curator in 1954, associate curator in 1962 and curator in 1968. He was appointed Curator Emeritus in 1993, upon his retirement from the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts (ESDA). He specialized in French and English furniture. The James Parker Records include correspondence and memoranda, research notes, clippings and photographic materials that document Parker’s significant contributions to the Museum and to the field of European decorative arts. These records document the internal activities of ESDA and elucidate Parker’s vigorous work on major Museum acquisitions, publications, exhibitions, permanent gallery installations, and most significantly, his tireless research activities.
During his tenure at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Richard F. Bach served as Associate in Industrial Arts (1918-1929), Director of Industrial Relations (1929-1941), Dean of Education and Extension (1941-1949), and Consultant in Industrial Arts (1949-1952). Bach championed the collaboration of museums and the industrial arts, working extensively with manufacturers, industrial designers, and educational institutions. In addition to his work at the Museum, Bach was a member and leader of a number of arts and education organizations as well as a prolific writer and lecturer. The Richard F. Bach Records primarily contain correspondence, meeting minutes, and pamphlets related to Bach’s activities as Director of Industrial Relations, Dean of Education and Extension, and Consultant in Industrial Arts. The majority of the correspondence is professional in nature and concerns Bach’s role as liaison between The Metropolitan Museum of Art and industrial designers, manufacturers, educators, and arts organizations.
John Taylor Johnston was a founder of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and was elected its first President in 1870. He held this position until he retired in 1889; the institution’s Trustees subsequently voted him Honorary President for Life. The collection consists of travel journals, visitor books, correspondence, family histories, and other unpublished and published documents relating to the life, travels and family history of John Taylor Johnston. The bulk of this material relates to Johnston’s personal affairs and is not concerned with The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
William Church Osborn was a longtime trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art who also served as the institution's Vice President, President and Honrary President. Records consist primarily of correspondence regarding all aspects of Museum operations including acquisitions, exhibitions, fundraising, personnel and trustee affairs.