Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Office of the Director.
RG02:05:02 Montebello Correspondence Files 1969-1974

A Guide to the Office of the Director, Philippe de Montebello, Correspondence Files
in the Archives of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Inventory prepared by EVL


Archives, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


P.O. Box 6826; Houston, TX 77265-6826



Summary Information


Montebello Correspondence Files


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Office of the Director.

Inclusive Dates:



.75 linear feet.


This series contains the miscellanous correspondence files of Philippe de Montebello, MFAH Director from 1969-1974. The papers illustrate de Montebello´s dealings over the years with art dealers, colleagues, publishers, personal friends, and trustees of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Call Number:



Materials are in English


Archives, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
P.O. Box 6826; Houston, TX 77265-6826

Access and Use

Acquisition Information:
In 1984 Director´s records were transferred to the Archives from the Museum´s rental storage area, vault storage, library storage, the Houston office of the Archives of American Art, and the registrar´s office. The Archives continues to receive regular deposits from the Office of the Director.

Access Restrictions:
Restrictions vary according to nature of materials. Consult the Archives for particulars.

Preferred Citation:
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Archives. RG02:05:02, Office of the Director, Philippe de Montebello, Correspondence Files, 1969-1974.

Biographical or Historical Note

Philippe de Montebello, the MFAH´s fifth director, served from September of 1969 through January of 1974. Prior to the MFAH directorship, that he began at the age of thirty-three, he had been part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art´s curatorial staff since 1963. De Montebello is a naturalized U.S. citizen who moved from France with his family in 1951. From 1956 — 1958, he served in the U.S. Army as a 2nd Artillery Officer. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a B.A.
in the history of art in 1961. Before accepting his first position at the Met, he worked toward his Masters at New York University´s Institute of Fine Arts.

During his tenure as MFAH director, de Montebello oversaw the construction of the Brown Pavilion. He expanded the professional curatorial staff from one to six and created two new departments: the Department of Twentieth Century Art and the Education Department. He successfully launched and
concluded what at the time was the largest capital campaign in MFAH history, the fifteen million dollar drive to raise funds for the Brown Pavilion, the renovation of Bayou Bend, and the construction of a building to house the museum school. The campaign was also to raise funds for an acquisitions endowment and for overall operations. Under his leadership, the operating endowment quintupled, and a two million dollar acquisitions fund, the Agnes Cullen Arnold Endowment Fund, was established. As director, de Montebello added significant Baroque pieces to the collection of the museum.

He hired a professional publicist as Publications Editor, and introduced the monthly publication of bulletins. In programming, de Montebello accelerated the film and lecture series, and hosted the first colloquia. He also recognized the importance of the library, obtaining special funding for it.
In February of 1974, de Montebello returned to the Metropolitan Museum as Vice Director of Curatorial Affairs. He became the Met´s Acting Director in June of 1977, and in May of 1978 he became Director.



Collection Scope and Content Note

The Miscellaneous correspondence files contain letters to and from Director Montebello, arranged alphabetically according to the name of the correspondent. The papers illustrate de Montebello´s dealings over the years (1969 to 1974) with art dealers, colleagues, publishers, personal friends, and trustees of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The bulk of the Miscellaneous Correspondence is with dealers and concerns specific antiquities or European paintings considered for acquisition by the MFA,H. Dealers include William R. Acquavella, New York; Paule M. Anglim, San Francisco; Adele Siegel of Arras Gallery, New York; Claude Aubry and Hector Brame, Paris; Jeannette Brun, Zurich; Galerie G. Cramer, The Hague; Paul Drey Gallery, New York; Peter Gimpel; Andrew Ciechanowiecki of Heim Gallery; and Claus Virch. The papers include correspondence between Curator Jack L. Schrader and dealers Heinz Herzer of Munich, Peter Lodge of London, and Germaine Seligman of New York. Schrader was primarily interested in Medieval and earlier antiquities for the MFA,H collection. Some letters carry his or de Montebello´s handwritten recommendations regarding the objects under consideration.

Subject Terms

Art — Collectors and collecting — Texas — Houston
Art dealers
Art galleries, Commercial
Art museum directors — Texas — Houston
Art museums — Texas — Houston

Personal Names
Ciechanowiecki, Andrzej S., 1924-
de Montebello, Philippe
Schrader, J. L.

Corporate Names
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Container List

Philippe de Montebello miscellaneous correspondence files, 1969-1974
box 1folder 1-4A-D, 1970-74
5de Menil, 1969-72
6-8E-H, 1970-73
8-50Heim Gallery, 1969-74
9-15I-P, 1969-73
16-18Personal, 1968-71
19Publishers, misc. 1972-73
20-23R-T, 1969-73
24Trustees, 1970-72
25Vaudecrane, C.
26Virch, Claus, 1972-73
27-28W-Z, 1970-72