Lowry, Bates 1923-2004

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LOWRY, Bates 1923-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born June 23, 1923, in Cincinnati, OH; died of pneumonia March 12, 2004, in Brooklyn, NY. Historian, educator, and author. Lowry was a specialist in art and architecture history and former director of the Museum of Modern Art and National Building Museum. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and it was while in France and Germany that he became interested in art and architecture. He studied art history at the University of Chicago after the war, earning his doctorate in 1955. Lowry's academic career began at the University of California at Riverside, where he was an assistant professor in the mid-1950s. Next, he was an assistant professor at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University from 1957 to 1959, followed by four years as professor and chair of the art department at Pomona College. He performed similar duties at Brown University from 1963 to 1968, the year that Museum of Modern Art director Rene D'Harnoncourt selected him to be his successor. Unfortunately, D'Harnoncourt died shortly thereafter in an auto accident, and Lowry had difficulties gaining support from the museum's trustees after the abrupt transition. Resigning from the museum in 1969, he joined the faculty at the University of Massachusetts, where he was a professor of art and department chair for the remainder of the 1970s. In 1980, Lowry's knowledge of architecture led to his being selected as director of the new National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., which opened in 1985. But although Lowry's knowledge of architecture was never in question, he did not enjoy fundraising and working to stay in the good graces of politicians. He left in 1987 to focus on writing and research. Among his publications are Renaissance Architecture (1962), Building a National Image: Architectural Drawings for the American Democracy, 1789-1912 (1985), and The Silver Canvas: Daguerreotype Masterpieces from the J. Paul Getty Museum (1998), which he wrote with his wife, Isabel. He and his wife were also the founders of the Dunlap Society, which was created to develop educational materials about art. A member of the Smithsonian Institute's editorial board, Lowry edited the College Art Association's Monograph series during the 1950s and 1960s, the Art Bulletin from 1965 to 1968, and the Architecture of Washington, D.C. from 1977 to 1979.



Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2004, p. B9.

New York Times, March 18, 2004, p. C17.

Washington Post, March 17, 2004, p. B6.