Summary
Collection ID:
Record Unit 426
Creators:
National Portrait Gallery. Office of the Director
Dates:
1937-1990
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
38 cu. ft. (38 record storage boxes)
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
The first NPG director, Charles Nagel, was appointed in 1964. Most of the records document the director's efforts to initiate programs to fulfil the second mission of the Gallery: to provide a research center for American biography, iconography, and history. To achieve this objective, Charles Nagel established the Catalogue of American Portraits and the Charles Willson Peale Papers. During his tenure, Nagel acquired additional small collections such as a few Andrew Mellon portraits and transfers from the National Museum of History and Technology and the National Collection of Fine Arts. Also, the records document NPG's move from the Arts and Industries Building in 1967 to its present quarters in the Old Patent Office Building.
Records for the tenures of Marvin Sadik and Alan M. Fern mostly document major programmatic innovations, such as the Living Self-Portrait and Portrait in Motion series, that resulted in colloquia. The records also document special exhibition schedules, the donation in 1974 by Paul Mellon of 761 engraved portraits by C. B. J. F. de Saint-Memin, the donation by Time Incorporated of 850 pieces of art used on Time magazine covers, and 5,419 glass negatives from the Mathew Brady Studio, which were acquired in 1981 from the Frederick Hill Meserve Collection.
Included in the records are internal correspondence between the directors and NPG staff; correspondence with other Smithsonian bureaus as well as with other local, national, and international art institutions and artists; and numerous public inquiries about artists, works of art, exhibitions, donations of art, and bequests. These records also include color and black and white photographs, color slides, exhibition designs, exhibition materials such as catalogues, installation photographs, check lists, names and addresses of financial and art donors, shipping and loan forms, insurance forms, reports concerning the security of the collections and the Gallery, and condition reports that mostly document loan exhibitions and some new acquisitions. There are also minutes from various committee meetings within and outside NPG.

Historical Note
Historical Note
These records document the administrations of three directors of the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) - Charles Nagel, 1964-1969; Marvin Sadik, 1969-1981; and Alan M. Fern, 1982-2000.
The records document the history and routine operations of the NPG since 1937 when the National Gallery of Art Commission was the designated official body to accept donations of portraits for the Gallery's future opening. The United States Congress officially established the National Portrait Gallery in 1962 as a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, "a free and public museum for the exhibition and study of portraiture and statuary depicting men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of the people of the United States, and of the artists who created such portraiture and statuary."
The Smithsonian Board of Regents appointed the first NPG Commission in 1963, which elected John Nicholas Brown as its chairman. The Commission's two main objectives for the NPG were based on its congressional mandate: the acquisition and exhibition of portraits and statuary of people who have made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of the United States; and the establishment of the Gallery as a research center for American biography, iconography, and history. Before the appointment of the Gallery's first director in 1964, the Commission established guidelines for accepting portraits, among which were the best likeness possible; original portraits from life, if possible; exhibitions of the United States presidents and first ladies as well as permanent collection portraits of subjects who have been dead for at least ten years.

Notes
SI Records

Using the Collection
Prefered Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 426, National Portrait Gallery. Office of the Director, Records
Access Restriction
Boxes 15 and 30 contain materials restricted indefinitely; see finding aid. Contact reference staff for details.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Nagel, Charles, 1899-1992 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sadik, Marvin S. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fern, Alan Maxwell, 1930- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mellon, Andrew W. (Andrew William), 1855-1937 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mellon, Paul Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Saint-Mémin, Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de, 1770-1852 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Brady, Mathew B., approximately 1823-1896 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Brown, John Nicholas, 1900-1979 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Portrait Gallery (U.S.). Catalog of American Portraits Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Portrait Gallery (U.S.). Charles Willson Peale Papers Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Collection of Fine Arts (U.S.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arts and Industries Building (Washington, D.C.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Patent Office Building (Washington, D.C.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Portrait Gallery (U.S.). Living Self-Portrait Series Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Portrait Gallery (U.S.). Portrait in Motion Series Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Time, inc. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Frederick Hill Meserve Collection Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Portrait Gallery Commission (U.S.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Time Title Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museums -- Administration Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art museum directors Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art museums Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museums -- Acquisitions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum exhibits Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museums -- Public relations Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Floor plans Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Exhibition catalogs 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
Illustrations Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuscripts Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Color transparencies Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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