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SC 5

Randall, Richard H., 1926-1997. Papers, 1952-1997: A Guide

Harvard Art Museum Archives, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University
The President and Fellows of Harvard College

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: SC 5
Repository: Harvard Art Museum Archives, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University
Creator: Randall, Richard H., 1926-1997.
Title: Papers of Richard H. Randall, Jr., 1952-1997: A Guide
Date(s): 1952-1997
Quantity: 17 linear feet (29 file boxes, 7 half file boxes, 1 12x6.25 card box, 1 19x15 folio box, 1 record carton)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Correspondence, military records, research materials, drafts of writings and published material created by Richard H. Randall documenting his work as a museum curator and director.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The collection was donated to the Harvard Art Museums by Lilian Randall in October 2006 and April 2007. One additional folder was donated in December 2012.

Processing Information:

The collection was processed in June and July 2008 by Justine Marino with assistance from Jane Callahan and Susan von Salis. An additional folder of addenda was processed by Brooke McManus in February 2013.

Conditions on Access:


Conditions on Use:

Copying: Copying from the manuscript of The Museum Observed is restricted to five episodes; requests for greater portions of the document must be obtained in writing from the donor or her heirs or assigns until 1 January, 2020. Copying of other materials in the collection is unrestricted.
Copyright: The donor has transferred any copyright held in these papers to the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright in some papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the Harvard Art Museums Archives before publishing quotations from any material in the collection.


Richard Randall was born in Baltimore on January 31, 1936. He was the second of two children of Richard Harding and Mary (Buzby) Randall. After attending Calvert and Gilman Schools in Baltimore, he transferred to Pomfret School in Connecticut in 1942. Immediately following his high school graduation Randall joined the army where he served in Czechoslovakia and Germany during World War II as a member of the 4th Armored Division. Upon returning from the war he enrolled at Princeton University where he earned a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1950. He went on to obtain a master's degree in art history in 1951 from Harvard University. Awarded an internship in the Department of Medieval Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From 1952 to 1959 he was successively appointed Assistant and Associate Curator of this department whose jurisdiction included The Cloisters. From 1959 to 1964 he was assistant curator of decorative arts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where he organized exhibitions on H.H. Richardson and Shaker furniture while publishing major holdings of American furniture. Randall's career at the Walters Art Gallery (later renamed the Walters Art Museum) in Baltimore started in 1964 as assistant director. In 1965 he was named director, a position that he held until 1981. His signal contributions as director included expansion of office space and departmental facilities, construction of an imposing addition (1974), formation of an international group of experts on ivory carvings, new acquisitions through purchases or gifts, and fund-raising for the above as well as for broader public outreach and major exhibitions with catalogues. As curator of Medieval Art from 1981 to 1984, Randall completed major publications on Gothic Ivories and continued active research. Randall published multiple works including The Golden Age of Ivory: Gothic Carvings in North American Collections. Randall was married to Lilian Cramer in 1953. The couple had a son, Christopher and two daughters Julia and Katharine, and two grandchildren, Rebecca and Emma. Randall died in Baltimore on July 3rd, 1997.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

The collection is arranged topically by series.

Scope and Content:

The Richard H. Randall Papers date from 1952 to 1997, and contain both professional and personal correspondence. Materials in the collection pertaining to lectures given by Randall include drafts of his writings, photographs of various works of art and architecture, pamphlets and research notes on topics ranging from medieval jewelry to children's furniture. Included in the collection are materials regarding various exhibitions that Randall worked on during his professional career. A bulk of this material pertains to the Ivories Exhibition at the Walters Art Gallery that took place in 1983. Museum records from both the Walters Art Gallery and Museum of Fine Arts are also present in the collection. The published materials in the collection consist of journals that contain articles that Randall wrote. The collection also contains items pertaining to Randall's military service including published materials regarding the 4th armored division, war photographs and official military records. Included is a booklet produced by the German government detailing the exhibition of Nazi artwork in Germany during the war. Other personal material in the collection consists of travel photographs, a draft of his unpublished memoir, The Museum Observed, yearbooks from The Pomfret School and documents created by the Walpole Society and class notes taken as a graduate student at Harvard.
The collection arrived from the donor in good order, with many extant folder titles. The processor did minimal reorganizing of the materials in the collection, with the exception of items found loose in boxes. Folder titles appearing in square brackets are those added by the processor.

Box and Folder Locations






Form/Genre Terms

Container List