Warren M. Robbins Papers,
circa 1927-2009

Summary
Collection ID:
Accession 11-001
Creators:
Robbins, Warren M
Dates:
circa 1927-2009
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
83.1 cu. ft. (80 record storage boxes) (4 12x17 boxes) (2 16x20 boxes)
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
These papers document the life and work of Warren M. Robbins, covering a wide swath of his life, from his early career in the Foreign Service to his work in cross cultural communications and African art. A prolific writer, Robbins correspondence with such people as Maya Angelou, Ernie Barnes, Saul Bellow, Eliot Elisofon, Otto Fried, Buckminster Fuller, Francoise Gilot, Chaim Gross, S. I. Hayakawa, Harry Holtzman, Frances Humphrey Howard, Herbert H. Humphrey, Ben Shahn, and Margaret Mead document the close relationships he had with a wide range of people as well as reveal his personality and character.
The papers also include Robbins subject files and reveal his interests in African art, Piet Mondrian, and semantics among other things. Also included are records related to the creation and administration of the Museum of African Art, the work it took to get it included as part of the Smithsonian, its transfer, and the difficulties and conflicts Robbins experienced as a result. The records provide extensive coverage of the work involved in keeping the MAA a vibrant center of education, as well as documents the acquisition of collection material and the production of exhibitions.
The papers also contain materials related to publications, including Robbins' African Art in American Collections, both the 1966 and 1989 editions. Also included are materials related to his writings, lectures, and introductions of which he was known for. Of interest are the materials prepared by Roulhac Toledano in preparation for an unpublished work: Before and After the Smithsonian, The Legacy of Warren Robbins, Founder, National Museum of African Art: A Biography of Letters and Essays.
Other highlights include audio recordings from the dedication of the Museum of African Art on September 21, 1966, as well as recordings of lectures and interviews; records regarding the return of the Afo-A-Kom to the Kom people of Cameroon; records related to the acquisition of the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives; transcripts of oral history interviews; and the numerous awards and honors received by Robbins including the Joseph Henry Medal.
Materials include correspondence, memoranda, invitations, publications, articles, reports, images, sound recordings, transcripts, awards, clippings, newsletters, brochures, scrapbooks, pamphlets, mailings, maps, and floor plans. Some materials are in German and French.

Historical Note
Historical Note
A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, BA, 1945 and the University of Michigan, MA, 1949, Warren Murray Robbins started his career as a secondary school teacher. He later served in the United States Foreign Service, holding a variety of educational and curatorial posts in Germany and Austria. After returning to the United States, Robbins established the Center for Cross Cultural Communication (CCCC) in 1962 to serve as an educational institute integrating, popularizing and utilizing the insights and perspectives of the social sciences and the arts to foster international and interracial understanding as well as communication between the academic world and a broader public audience.
Once of first major projects of the CCCC was the creation in 1964 of the Museum of African Art (MAA). The museum was the extension of an interest in African art that Robbins developed while in Europe. The museum was originally located in the Washington, DC residence of Frederick Douglass and became part of the Smithsonian Institution in1979 and was later renamed the National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) in 1981.
During the 15 years that the MAA was in operation, the CCCC operated under the Museum's name. Following the Museum's inclusion as part of the Smithsonian it reverted back to its original corporate name with the inclusion of Robbins' name in the title to become the Robbins Center for Cross-Cultural Communication.
From 1964 to 1982, Robbins was the Director of the MAA, later becoming the Founding Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar from 1982-1995. In June of 1995, the Smithsonian eliminated Robbins position as Founding Director Emeritus/Senior Scholar because of budgetary reasons. Subsequently Robbins sued the Smithsonian, but ultimately lost and was not able to be reinstated.
After leaving the Smithsonian, Robbins continued his work at the Robbins Center for Cross Cultural Communications to apply the perspectives and insights of the social sciences and the arts in public education with particular emphasis on interracial understanding. Robbins passed away on December 4, 2008.

Chronology
Chronology
September 4, 1923
Born - Worcester, Massachusetts
1928-1937
Midland Street Elementary School
1938-1941
Classical High School
1941-1945
University of New Hampshire, Durham - BA English
1945-1949
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor - MA History
August 1949-September 1950
Teacher, High School, Department of the Army, Dependent School System - Bremerhaven, Germany
September-December 1950
Teacher, High School, Department of the Army, Dependent School System - Nurnberg, Germany
January 1951-November 1951
Visiting Expert, Public Affairs Program, Department of State - Hicog, Germany
1951-1955
Education Officer, American Embassy, Department of State -Vienna, Austria
1955-1957
Cultural Affairs Officer, American Consulate General, United States Information Agency - Stuttgart, Germany
1957-1958
Public Affairs Officer, American Consulate General, United States Information Agency - Stuttgart, Germany
1958-1960
Deputy Chief, Cultural Centers and Program Unit, American Embassy - Bonn, Germany
1960-1961
Staff, U. S. Advisory Commission on Educational and Cultural Relations
1961-1962
Assistant to Deputy Assistant of State for Educational and Cultural Relations, Department of State
1962-1963
Course Chairman, Foreign Service Institute, Department of State
1962-2010
Founder and Director, Center for Cross Cultural Communications (CCCC) and later the Robbins Center for Cross Cultural Communications
1964
Museum of African Art founded as a part of CCCC
1964-1982
Founder and Director, Museum of African Art/National Museum of African Art
1966
Establishment of the Frederick Douglass Institute for Intercultural Understanding
1978
President Carter signs bill authorizing the transfer of MAA to the Smithsonian
1979, August 13
Museum of African Art officially becomes part of the Smithsonian
1981
Museum of African Art changed names to the National Museum of African Art
1982
Sabbatical to Africa
1982-1995
Founding Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar, National Museum of African Art
1987
National Museum of African Art building opens in the Quadrangle on the National Mall
1995, June
Terminated from National Museum of African Art
2008, December 4
Warren M. Robbins passes away

Notes
Personal Papers

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 11-001, Robbins, Warren M, Warren M. Robbins Papers
Access Restriction
Series 9 - Smithsonian Conflict, 1982-2002 restricted for 5 years from the date of transfer, until Jan-01-2016; Transferring office; 09/13/2010 Deed of Gift; Contact reference staff for details.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Angelou, Maya Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barnes, Ernie, 1938-2009 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bellow, Saul Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Douglass, Frederick, 1817?-1895 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Elisofon, Eliot Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gross, Chaim, 1904-1991 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Holtzman, Harry Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mondrian, Piet, 1872-1944 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Robbins, Warren M. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Toledano, Roulhac Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fried, Otto, 1922- Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895- Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gilot, Francoise, 1921- Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hayakawa, S. I. (Samuel Ichiye), 1906-1992 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Howard, Frances Humphrey Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum of African Art (U.S.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Museum of African Art (U.S.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Smithsonian Institution Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. Foreign Service Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
University of Michigan Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
University of New Hampshire Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Center for Cross Cultural Communication Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Robbins Center for Cross Cultural Communication Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
A Nigerian Showcase (Exhibition) (1980: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Art Playing Cards: 52 Paintings by Harold Jerome (Exhibition) (1978: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Art in Motion (Exhibition) (1974: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Art in Washington Collections (Exhibition) (1972: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Art: The de Havenon Collection (Exhibition) (1971: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Miniatures: Traditional Sculpture from the Hersey Collection (Exhibition) (1967: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Sculpture at Princeton Univeristy (Exhibition) (1971: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Style: Art of Zaire (Exhibition) (1978: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Weaving and Traditional Dress (Exhibition) (1975: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Animals in African Art (Exhibition) (1977: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Animals in African Art (Exhibition) (2000: Salisbury, M.D.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art from Zaire: 100 Masterpieces from the National Collections (Exhibition) (1975-1976: New York, N.Y.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art of Nigeria (Exhibition) (1964: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bamana Figurative Sculpture: A Human Ideal in African Art (Exhibition) (1986: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ben Shahn on Human Rights (Traveling exhibition) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Contemporary African Paintings and Graphics (Exhibition) (1974: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Contemporary Nigerian Pottery (Exhibition) (1972: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Contemporary Tapestries from Senegal (Exhibition) (1978: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Five Afro-American Artists (Exhibition) (1981: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Five Nineteeth Century Afro-American Artists (Exhibition) (1979: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Forms and Influences of African Art (Exhibition) (1985: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Images of Ancestors: Ties That Bind (Exhibition) (1995: Charlottesville, V.A.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Life . . . Afterlife: African Funerary Sculpture (Exhibition) (1981: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Out of the Ordinary: Domestic and Ritual Furnishings from Africa (Exhibition) (1981: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Salute to Sierra Leone (Exhibition) (1976: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Secular and Religious Art of Ethiopia (Exhibition) (1976: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tapestries from Lesotho (Exhibition) (1976: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The African Heritage (Exhibition) (1964: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Art of Cameroon (Traveling exhibition) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Art of Henry O. Tanner (Exhibition) (1969: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Beauty of the Ghetto (Exhibition) (1974: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Great Beautiful Black Women Collection (Exhibition) (1978: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Heritage of African Art (Exhibtion) (1967: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Image of the Black in Western Art (Traveling exhibition) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Impact of African Sculpture on Modern Art (Exhibition) (1975: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Language of African Art (Exhibition) (1970: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Language of Art in Traditional African Life (Traveling exhibition) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Meaning of African Art (Exhibition) (1967: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Sculptor's Eye: The African Art Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Chaim Gross (Traveling exhibition) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Stranger Among Us (Exhibition) (1982: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
The Useful Arts of Kenya (Exhibition) (1979: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Traditional African Art from the Peabody Museum, Harvard University (Exhibition) (1966: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Traditional African Sculpture (Exhibition) (1964: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Traditional Costumes and Jewelry in Africa (Exhibition) (1981: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Traditional Costumes and Jewelry in Egypt (Exhibition) (1981: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Traditional Sculpture from Upper Volta (Exhibition) (1979: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Traditonal Art of the Nigerian Peoples (Exhibition) (1977: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Traditonal and Contemporary Crafts from Botswana (Exhibition) (1978: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Treasures of Ancient Nigeria: Legacy of 2000 Years (Exhibition) (1980: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tribute to Africa: The Photography and the Collection of Eliot Elisofon (Exhibition) (1974: Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Weaving Magic: Traditional African Textiles (Exhibition) (1998: Savannah, G.A.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Art in American Collections (Monograph) 1966. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Art in American Collections (Monograph) 1989. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, African Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Communication Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cultural relations Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kom (African people) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum attendance Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum directors. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum exhibits Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum finance. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum publications. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum techniques Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museums -- Acquisitions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museums -- Collection management. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museums -- Educational aspects. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museums -- Management Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museums -- Public relations. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museums and community Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Semantics Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Afo-A-Kom (Statue) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuscripts Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Brochures Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Newsletters Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Floor plans Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Maps Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Color photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black-and-white photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black-and-white negatives Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black-and-white transparencies Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Color transparencies Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Color negatives Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Glass negatives Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artifacts Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
Contact us at osiaref@si.edu