B-9 Committee on the Fine Arts, 1955-1984

Administrative History:  Rev. Edward J. O’Donnell, S.J. established the University Committee on Art in 1955 and appointed John L. Pick, professor of English, as its chair. The committee was charged with presiding over the university’s fine art collection, negotiating with donors, and supervising details involved with storing, displaying, loaning, and protecting the collection. The committee changed its name to the “University Committee on the Fine Arts” in 1956. As no art gallery existed on campus at this time, portions of the collection were displayed in various buildings. The main display area was the Marquette Room on the first floor of Memorial Library. The first print catalog was published in 1964 and a supplement appeared in 1966. Acquisitions were the result of donations until 1984, at which time an acquisitions fund was initiated through gifts in memory of Mrs. Ethel Heller Hyman in the 1970s, the committee gradually expanded the scope of its activities to include a biennial Fine Arts Lecture series, co-sponsoring lectures in cooperation with other campus groups, loaning pieces for regional and national exhibits, curating its own exhibits, and providing tours of the collection (see B-9, series 5.3 and 5.4).

Following Pick’s retirement in 1975, Curtis L. Carter, professor in Philosophy, took over as committee chair. In 1977, the committee asked consultants from the Chicago and Minneapolis art institutes to evaluate the significance and quality of the collection. As a result of that work, the University secured a National Endowment for the Arts grant to conserve, clean, re-varnish, and repair the paintings, and to create temporary storage with better conditions. Also in 1977, the Marquette Women’s Council assumed leadership in the effort to provide a gallery to preserve the collection in proper conditions of temperature, humidity, and security. In 1979-1980, the Art Gallery Building Committee was formed and charged with selection of the project architect (see B-9, series 5.7).

The early 1980s witnessed a flurry of activity relating to the construction and anticipated opening of the art museum:  a comprehensive inventory of the permanent collection; plans to computerize record-keeping relating to the fine arts collection; and preparation for an updated print catalog of the permanent collection. Ground-breaking ceremonies were held on April 25, 1983. In April 1984, Curtis L. Carter was appointed director of the museum. The Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art opened on November 11, 1984, with an exhibition entitled “Thirty Years of Collecting,” highlighting works from the permanent collection. With the formal opening of the museum, the Marquette University Committee on the Fine Arts was officially dissolved through a presidential order of Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J.

Restrictions:  Access to these records is unrestricted. However, the researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright which may be involved in the use of these records. Consult an archivist for further information.

Arrangement:  This record group is arranged into five unrestricted series.

Series 5.1 Administrative Subject Files, 1914-1987
Series 5.2 Donor Correspondence, 1926-1975
Series 5.3 Projects, Lectures, and Exhibits, 1946-1983
Series 5.4 Exhibits: Clippings, Press Releases, and Photographs, 1903-1986
Series 5.5 Information About Works or Artists, 1949-1977
Series 5.6 Sound Recordings, 1973-1980
Series 5.7 Art Gallery Building Committee, 1967-1983