- Collection ID:
- Physical Description:
The Robert M. Doty papers measure 4 linear feet and date from circa 1935-2000, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1960-1992. The collection documents Doty's career as a museum curator and director, particularly his involvement with American folk art and photography, through biographical materials, correspondence, writings, artist files, and exhibition and gallery files detailing several exhibitions that Doty curated during his career. Also found are consulting and professional files, subject and research files reflecting a wide variety of research interests, professional projects, and activities, collecting records documenting Doty's personal art collecting, and printed materials related to Doty's career and interests.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Robert M. Doty papers measure 3.4 linear feet and date from circa 1935-2000, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1960-1992. The collection documents Doty's career as a museum curator and director, particularly his involvement with American folk art and photography through biographical material, personal and professional correspondence, writings including exhibition catalogs and notes, and consulting and professional files documenting positions working with institutions and corporations including the Empire State building's art commission and the XEROX Corporation.
Also found are artist files, exhibition and gallery records including artwork lists, photographs, prints and slides of artwork, press clippings, grant applications and miscellaneous exhibition documents which document several exhibitions that Doty curated or was invited to. Subject and research files reflect a wide variety of research interests, professional projects, and activities notably on American folk art and photography. Materials include notes, annotated articles, and news clippings. Collecting records document Doty's personal art collecting and lending to museums and galleries through loan agreements, checklists, and deeds of gift. Printed materials include news clippings, correspondence, exhibition invitations and publications, reports, slides, and photographs related to Doty's career and interests.
The collection is arranged as 9 series:
- Series 1: Biographical Materials, circa 1959-1992 (2 folders; Box 1)
- Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1935-2000 (0.5 Linear feet; Box 1)
- Series 3: Writings, circa 1959-1990 (0.3 Linear feet; Box 1)
- Series 4: Artist Files, circa 1938-1997 (0.4 Linear feet; Box 1-2)
- Series 5: Exhibition and Gallery Files, circa 1957-1994 (0.4 Linear feet; Box 2)
- Series 6: Consulting and Professional Files, circa 1959-1985 (0.2 Linear feet; Box 2)
- Series 7: Subject and Research Files, circa 1935-1992 (1.1 Linear feet; Box 2-4)
- Series 8: Collecting Records, circa 1972-1992 (2 folders; Box 4)
- Series 9: Printed Materials, circa 1960-2000 (0.4 Linear feet; Box 4)
Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Robert Doty (1933-1992) was a museum curator and director from Rochester, New York.
Doty received a B.A. from Harvard University in 1956 and an M.A. from the University of Rochester in 1961, where he studied the history of photography. In Rochester, he also worked at the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography, organizing exhibitions of the work of Lewis Hine (1957), the Photo-Secession (1960) and Bill Brandt (1962). Other positions Doty held include research assistant at the Victoria and Albert Museum, (1961-1962); assistant to the director at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, (1963-1964); and assistant to the director at the Yale University Art Gallery, (1964-1965.
Doty became associate curator of the Whitney Museum in 1966, and curator in 1970, and organized several high-profile exhibitions. These included the Whitney's first historical survey of American photography in 1974 and Contemporary Black Artists in America (1971), which generated controversy when 15 of the 75 artists withdrew to protest that Black specialists had not been consulted about selections for the exhibition. Doty left the Whitney in 1974 to become director of the Akron Art Institute until 1977. From 1977 until his retirement in 1987 Doty was director of the Currier Gallery of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire. He subsequently worked part time as the acting director of the New England College Gallery in Henniker, New Hampshire.
During his time at the Akron Art Institute and the Currier Gallery Doty dedicated significant energy and interest towards American folk art, organizing respective exhibitions at both museums: American Folk Art in Ohio Collections (1976) and By Good Hands: New Hampshire Folk Art(1989). His papers reflect this extensive research and interest. Over the course of his career Doty maintained several enduring relationships with other prominent curators and directors such as Grace M. Mayer and Beaumont Newhall. Doty also dedicated his time to several consulting projects with institutions and corporations including the Empire State building's art commission, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the National Endowment for the Arts, and the XEROX Corporation, and wrote and edited several exhibition essays, catalogs, and books, including books on the Photo-Secession, American photography, and the artists Will Barnet and Lewis Hine.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated in 1994 by Joan Doty, Doty's wife, and in 2018 by Paul Doty, Doty's son.
The collection was processed, and a finding aid prepared by Sabine Lipten in 2022.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Conditions Governing Use
Robert M. Doty papers, circa 1935-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001