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Digital Art History
November 09, 2016

The Smithsonian Archives of American Art has digitized and made available online the papers of art historian and museum director Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner (1880-1958).

Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, Valentiner joined the staff of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1908 as the first curator of decorative arts. In 1913 he founded the journal Art in America, and remained its editor until 1931. As the director of the Detroit Institute of Arts (1924–1944) he oversaw significant acquisitions in all of the DIA’s collections and developed the museum’s education and conservation divisions. He also founded the Arts Quarterly journal for the College Art Association in 1937 and served as editor until 1949. After a brief retirement, Valentiner served as the director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1946–1954), the Getty Museum (1954), and the North Carolina Museum of Art (1955–1958).

The digitization of Valentiner’s personal archive, which includes biographical materials, correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, and photographs, make it possible for scholars around the globe to access materials that contribute to the understanding of the history of art history as a scholarly discipline and the history of art collecting in America.

To explore the Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner papers, 1853-1977, visit the Archives of American Art: