Grace Morley

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Dr. Grace Louise McCann Morley (1900–1985) was a museologist of global influence. She was the founder of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and its Director for 23 years starting in 1934. Time Magazine carried an article in her twentieth year with the museum, and then another article on her retirement. In an interview with Thomas Tibbs, she is credited with being a major force in encouraging young American artists.

During these years, she was active in the art world in the US. She was Second Vice-President, American Federation of Arts, 1939; Counsellor for Arts at the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, 1941; a Member of the Committee of the Fine Arts Buildings of the International Exposition in San Francisco and Director of Pacific House 1940, a Member of the Committee of Experts on the Arts, State Department, 1940-1945. Between 1946-1949, she took leave from San Francisco Museum of Art, and became Consultant for Museums at UNESCO Preparatory Commission, and then as the Head of its Museums Division.

She authored a number articles on Contemporary Art, and on Latin American Civilizations.

She moved to India in 1960, and remained there until her death in 1985. She was the Founder Director of the National Museum in New Delhi and was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Indian government.

Her career included a stint as Curator of Cincinnati Museum of Art, Ohio, from 1930. She was active in the International Council of Museums (ICOM), and was the Head of the ICOM Regional Agency for South and South-East Asia from 1967 to 1978.

Dr Morley had a D.Litt. doctoral degree from Paris France in art and literature (1926), an honorary degree from Mills College (1937), and an honorary "Doctor of Humane Letters" degree from Smith in 1957.

Research Fellowships in her honor are awarded by ICOM India Trust each year. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has established the Grace McCann Morley Legacy Society for donors who provide for the museum in their estate plans. In India, the National Museum Institute holds an annual Dr Grace Morley Memorial Seminar [1].

Personal life[edit]

Dr Morley started her career in Cincinnati in 1930, but is best remembered for her years in San Francisco and her second career in India. She formed some passionate friendships with women during this time.

For the last twenty years, she shared an apartment with a retired Indian Air Force officer and his wife, who became her Indian family, and it was there she died at the age of 84. They believe she had converted to Buddhism at some point in time. Dr Morley's body was cremated in the Indian tradition, and her ashes immersed in a holy river.

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Indian Sculpture by Grace Morley, Roli Books.
  • Karl Morris; Retrospective by Grace L. McCann Morley, American Federation of Arts. 1960.

External links[edit]