A. Gilbert Wright (1909-1987) was a zoologist and exhibits curator with diverse interests in natural history, exhibits preparation, and writing. Born in Carthage, Illinois, Wright developed an interest in natural history, taxidermy, and museum curatorship in his youth. After receiving the B.A. in biology from Carthage College in 1932, he was appointed zoologist at the Illinois State Museum (ISM) in 1933. Wright gained broad museum experience as a Rockefeller Foundation intern at the Buffalo Museum of Science in 1937-1938. During his ISM tenure, he published two volumes, The Illinois State Museum, Guide to Exhibits and Common Illinois Insects. He received the M.S. degree in zoology from the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1946. Wright served briefly as chief of the School Service Department of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale in 1947-1948. In 1953 he left the ISM to accept a position as curator of exhibits at the Florida State Museum (FSM) in Gainesville. During his tenure at FSM, Wright developed exhibits for the main museum building, a "museumobile," and historical site museums throughout the state. In 1961, Wright was appointed chief of the Museum Planning Branch of the National Park Service for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis. The project was abruptly terminated in 1963 due to cost overruns for the Gateway Arch. Wright then joined the staff of the Office of Exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution, as assistant chief with responsibilities for planning exhibits renovation in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). In 1971-1972 Wright was assistant to the director of the NMNH for exhibits planning and during this time developed the Insect Zoo. From 1972 until his retirement in 1975, he was a writer/editor in the Office of Exhibits Central.
In the early 1970s, Wright began teaching courses in museology at the George Washington University. After his retirement, he directed their new Museum Studies Program until 1978. Throughout his career, Wright was an active member of the American Association of Museums and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Researchers should consult the A. Gilbert Wright oral history interviews (Record Unit 9523), in the Smithsonian Institution Archives, for extensive information on Wright and his career.