The Victor D’Amico Papers are now processed and open for researchers to use onsite, by appointment at the Museum Archives reading room in Long Island City, Queens. The collection’s finding aid (inventory) is searchable online from any web-enabled device, along with MoMA’s other archival collections. The collection includes correspondence, audio and videotapes, clippings, draft and completed publications, as well as personal documents, awards, and honors. Most notable is the collection’s extensive photographic documentation of the many programs initiated during Victor D’Amico’s tenure at MoMA.
As founding director of MoMA’s Department of Education from 1937 to 1969, Victor D’Amico championed art education in the museum setting through innovations that are now standard offerings in museums around the world. At MoMA these included classes for servicepersons at the War Veterans’ Art Center, and for children and families at the People’s Art Center; circulating exhibitions for local students through the New York City High Schools Program; participatory creative experiences at the Children’s Art Carnival in its many versions at MoMA and in Milan, Brussels, Barcelona, various cities in India, and its eventual home in Harlem; and summer art instruction programs at the Art Barge, on eastern Long Island. Under his auspices, MoMA published instructional books for home use, introducing the layperson to artistic expression through techniques including woodworking, ceramics, jewelrymaking, and metalworking.
During D’Amico’s tenure at MoMA, the Department of Education organized a wide range of exhibitions, both at the Museum and in other locations. Some were curated by students involved in the High Schools Program; others showed works created by students in programs at the War Veterans’ Art Center, the People’s Art Center, the Art Carnivals, and summer classes at the Art Barge.
Have you participated in a museum studio art class as a child, adult, or senior learner, or maybe together with your children or grandchildren? Have you visited a museum with your class from school? Did your museum-based art education include experimentation, shared experiences, and the opportunity to use your imagination while learning? If so, then you too have benefited from the enduring legacy of Victor D’Amico: a pioneer in the progressive ideal of art education for children, adults, families, veterans, and seniors.
Processing of the Victor D’Amico Papers was made possible by generous funding from Ann L. Freedman; The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art; Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; MoMA’s Trustee Committee on Archives, Library, and Research; The Cowles Charitable Trust; Ngaere Macray; Beverley M. Galban; Lori and Eric Friedman; Jean Long Ostrow; and Anne and John McAlinden.