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Museum News in 1958

In 1958 many museums were active redesigning exhibits, modernizing galleries, and expanding their educational and public service programs.

Laurence Vail Coleman retired as director of the American Association of Museums after 35 years of service; he was succeeded by Joseph Allen Patterson. The association's director, Theodosia Cox, also retired after 25 years.

On April 15, a three-alarm fire damaged galleries of New York's Museum of Modern Art. One workman was killed, and three visitors and 28 firemen were injured. The most severely damaged art works were two oil paintings of water lilies by Claude Monet. The building was closed for extensive remodeling, and reopened on October 8.

The National Park Service continued its Mission 66 Program providing new visitor centers in parks across the county. Most unusual was the quarry visitor center at Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah. The exposed dinosaur quarry forms a 180-foot wall on one side of the building.

Among museums and related organizations cooperating in preparations of exhibits for the U.S. Pavilion at the Brussels World's Fair were the Museum of Primitive Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the American Craftsmen's Council, the American Federation of Arts, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all in New York City, New York; the Smithsonian Institution; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; the San Francisco (California) Museum of Art; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

New art museum buildings or additions completed in 1958 included the Cleveland (Ohio) Museum of Art; the Georgia Museum of Arts, Athens; the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; the Lowe Art Gallery, Coral Gables, Florida; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.

The Charles G. Dawes Home in Evanston, Illinois, became a historic house museum.

On August 22 the Smithsonian Institution broke ground for its new Museum of History and Technology. Shortly afterward President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill authorizing the institution to prepare plans and specifications for a national air museum.

Museum of Natural HistoryLeft: As part of a modernization program at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, animal preparators Watson Perrygo (left) and Neal Deaton assemble new life groups.

Historical museums completed or improved during the year included those of the Mattatuck Historical Society in Waterbury, Connecticut, and the Seattle (Washington) Historical Society; visitor centers at Fort Caroline National Monument (Jacksonville, Florida) and at Fort Frederica National Monument (St. Simons Island, Georgia); the Buten Museum of Wedgewood, Merion, Pennsylvania; the Roswell (New Mexico) Museum; and the Madeline Island Historical Museum, Bayfield, Wisconsin.

New additions completed in 1958 were the Dayton (Ohio) Museum of Natural History, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, the Cleveland (Ohio) Museum of Natural History, and the Cincinnati (Ohio) Museum of Natural History.

Kronosaurus fossilRight: The only complete 100-million-year-old fossil skeleton of what was once the largest flesh-eating marine reptile was reconstructed at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Biology. The 42-foot-long skeleton of a Kronosauruus was unearthed in Australia.


National Park Service
Brussels World's Fair
Smithsonian Institution
President Dwight Eisenhower

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This page was last updated on 06/14/2016.

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