The Richard Murray research material regarding mural painting in the United States measures 20.5 linear feet and dates from 1896 to 2006 with the bulk of the material dating from 1970 to 2006. The collection is comprised of Murray's extensive research files, scattered writings, and photographic materials for his life-long research on mural painting in the United States.
Scope and Contents:
The Richard Murray research material regarding mural painting in the United States measures 20.5 linear feet and dates from 1896 to 2006 with the bulk of the material dating from 1970 to 2006. The collection is comprised of Murray's extensive research files, scattered writings, and photographic materials documenting his life-long research on mural painting in the United States.
Mural research files are organized by city, state, artist, and general mural research. The files contain photocopies of printed material, notes, photographs, and correspondence. Artists with extensive documentation include John White Alexander, Edwin Blashfield, Kenyon Cox, John LaFarge, Will H. Low, H. Siddons Mowbray, John Warner Norton, Violet Oakley, Maxfield Parrish, John Singer Sargent, Eduard Steichen, and N.C. Wyeth. Other files consist of bibliographies, a mural catalog and index, hand-drawn statistical graphs, and files on murals in Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C.
Writings include drafts of articles "Painted Words: Murals in the Library of Congress" and "Progressive Era Murals in Chicago's Public Schools." There are also writings by others. Subject files consist of compiled notes, photographs, printed materials, and photocopies on general art related topics such as European art history and theory, art criticism, the life of an artist, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, immigration, and decorative arts.
Photographic materials include photographs and negatives of the American Academy in Rome, the Hotel de Ville, and public and private murals throughout various cities. The series also includes two microfilm reels of the Kenyon Cox papers with an index, and a small amount of Murray's personal photographs.
The collection is arranged as 4 series.
Series 1: Mural Research Files, 1896-2006 (15.2 linear feet; Boxes 1-16, OV 22)
Series 2: Writings, circa 1990s-2006 (0.4 linear feet; Box 16)
Series 3: Subject Files, 1967-2000 (1.0 linear feet; Boxes 16-17)
Series 4: Photographic Materials, 1916-2006 (3.9 linear feet; Boxes 17-21)
Biographical / Historical:
Richard Murray (1942-2006) was a curator, educator, and museum administrator in Washington, D.C.
Murray received a bachelor of arts from California State University in San Jose in 1968 and a M.A. in art history and theory from the University of Chicago in 1970. As a research fellow at the National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), now the Smithsonian American Art Museum, he began his dissertation research on mural paintings in the United States. Murray's research on American mural painting continued for decades. Although never officially published, the research project was titled "Hope and Memory: Mural Painting in the United States, 1876-1920." He authored numerous articles about mural painters and painting. Murray also conducted extensive research and organized exhibitions on painters Abbott Handerson Thayer and Elihu Vedder at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
In the 1970s, Murray worked as an assistant to the NCFA director and assisted in the preparation of the seminal bicentennial exhibition entitled America as Art. From 1979 to 1983, Murray was director of the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama. In 1983, he returned to Washington, D.C. and served as director of the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art until 1987, when he accepted the position of chief curator and assistant director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He remained in this position until his death in 2006.
Also available at the Archives of American Art is Richard Murray research material regarding Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1948-2004, bulk 1994-2001.
Research files on Abbott Handerson Thayer found within this collection were separated and filed with the AAA collection, Richard Murray research materials on Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1948-2004, bulk 1994-2001.
The bulk of the Richard Murray research material regarding mural painting in the United States was donated in 2006 by Murray's wife Marciela Murray. Additional files were transferred from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2009 and 2014 via Rachel Kase in the curatorial office.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center.