Gary Russell Libby

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Gary Russell Libby
Born (1944-06-07) June 7, 1944 (age 79)
Alma mater

Gary Russell Libby (born June 7, 1944) is an American art historian, author, educator and former museum director known for his books and scholarly exhibitions in the visual arts and his work on the history and development of the Florida School of Art.

Early life and education[edit]

Libby was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the second of three sons to Sylvia Phillips Libby of Boston and Charles Willard Libby of Machias, Maine. After graduation from Fort Myers Senior High School, Fort Myers, Florida, he attended the University of Florida, where he received an Associate of Arts, Bachelor and Masters of Arts degrees in English Literature. Libby was awarded a post-graduate National Defense Education Act Fellowship to attend Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was accepted into the doctoral program with an interest in turn of the century art and literature journals published in England, such as the Savoy and the Yellow Book. At Tulane, Libby worked with Dr. Jessie Poesch, Professor of Art History at Sophie Newcomb College, Tulane University, and author of the 1983 landmark publication The Arts of the Old South. After graduation from Tulane with another masters in English Literature and the completion of all coursework and examinations for the Ph.D. degree,[1] Libby was hired as an assistant professor by Stetson University in 1972.


Gary Russell Libby in the Gary R. Libby Gallery

At Stetson University, DeLand, Florida, Libby developed the curriculum for a number of upper-division interdisciplinary courses for a new major in the arts and humanities. He also worked with Fred Messersmith AWS, chairman of the Department of Art, in developing a series of exhibitions that explored the careers of artists from the United States and abroad who painted in Florida from post-Civil War to World War I. While at Stetson, Libby published a number of articles in academic journals, including the Italian Quarterly and Paideuma.

He also began his study of Cuban historic artists in the Fulgencio Batista Collection of Cuban art housed at the Cuban Foundation Museum, Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach, Florida. Libby’s "Artistic Taste in Pre-Castro Cuba" was one of the lead papers presented at the Southeastern Museum Conference, Charleston, South Carolina, 1975. That paper became the foundation of two books Libby authored. (Two Centuries of Cuban Art: 1759-1959, a softcover bi-lingual catalog, published by the Ringling Museum of Art, with essays interpreting works of art from the Batista Collection exhibition, 1980.[2] Libby curated the exhibition at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida, with additional works from the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Museum of Modern Art of Latin America, Washington, DC. Cuba-A History in Art, University Press of Florida, 1997, revised edition 2015.)

At Stetson University, Libby served as Secretary of the Faculty Senate and acting University Art Archivist. In 1975, he was elected as a Trustee at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach, Florida, and became a Charter Member of the International Society of Fine Art Appraisers, Ltd.

In 1977, Libby was hired as the Executive Director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences which became accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and a Smithsonian Affiliate under Libby’s leadership. The museum grew from one location of 7,000 sq. ft. to 120,000 sq. ft. with three different locations. Libby was also selected for and completed one of the first classes of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Leadership and Management Certification Program directed by Jane Glaser. At the museum, Libby organized and led the first international museum travel program in Florida. This annual program introduced cultural treasures in Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe, Scandinavia, North and Equatorial Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia to thousands of central Floridians who attended these interpreted educational and cultural expeditions. At his 2002 retirement, the trustees of the Museum of Arts and Sciences named Libby as the first Director Emeritus and named the Lobby of the Museum the "Gary R. Libby Entry Court." A trustee-led community-wide effort also raised nearly one million dollars to endow the Gary R. Libby Curator of Art position at the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

Libby continues to teach and lecture at Stetson University as a Visiting Professor / Guest Curator and also guest lectures for the Honors College at the University of Florida as adjunct lecturer.

Personal life and public service[edit]

Gary R. Libby lives in a restored National Register Colonial Revival House built in 1925 in Daytona Beach. He is active in a number of area heritage, arts and cultural organizations and was selected as a Daytona Beach Hometown Hero in 2016.

Libby is past secretary of the Florida Association of Museums and received their Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. He is a two-time past president of the Florida Art Museum Directors Association who presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Also in 2000, he was awarded the National Community Service Award by the National Junior Leagues of America. Libby was appointed to the Florida Arts Council through a gubernatorial appointment, 2005-2007. He served as a Trustee at Stetson University, 2008-2011. In 2012, he was elected to the University of Florida Foundation.[3] Libby was elected to the Board of Visitors at the Cornell Fine Art Museum at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, 2014, and chaired the Exhibitions Committee. In 2014, he was selected as the citywide Mayoral representative to the Daytona Beach Charter Review Commission. He also was elected to the City of Daytona Beach Board of Adjustments in 2016.[4]

Libby serves or has served on a number of Daytona Beach, Volusia County, State of Florida and National Advisory Boards including the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Libby served as a National Reviewer for their Grants Program) and the American Alliance of Museums, (he served as a Visiting on-site Accreditor for mid-size and large museums seeking accreditation from the AAM.) Both organizations are located in Washington, DC. Libby was the creator and moderator of a one-hour cultural information program, Culture Comes Alive, on radio AM 1380, streaming internationally on the web from 2013-2016.

Exhibitions curated[edit]

In May 2016 Stetson University’s Hand Art Center hosted the exhibition, “American Painting and the Florida School of Art” organized by guest curator, Gary R. Libby.[5] This exhibition is one of over seventy-five exhibitions curated by Libby during his 30-year career as an arts educator, curator and museum director.

Recent exhibitions curated by Libby and accompanied by publications include: Reflections - Paintings of Florida 1865-1965 (2009);[6] Reflections II - Watercolors of Florida 1835-2000 (2012),[7] the Bronze Award winner at the Florida Book Awards 2012; Chihuly – Form From Fire (1993), Cuba : A History in Art (1997, revised edition 2015); A Treasury of Indian Miniature Paintings (1992), and A Treasury of American Art(2003), The Henry Luce Foundation American Art Initiative Award recipient.

The Celebrating Florida – Works of Art from the Vickers Collection exhibition curated by Libby won the 1995 State of Florida Sesquicentennial Award. The exhibition, including a companion book and video,[8] toured the state throughout 1995 and concluded at the State Capitol Gallery in the newly constructed capitol building in Tallahassee, Florida.

Publications and books[edit]

Gary R. Libby has edited and written books and catalogs on a number of topics in the arts and humanities to include:

  • Cuba – A History in Art (1997) ISBN Number 0933053126, (Revised Edition, 2015) ISBN Number 978-0-8130-4998, University Press of Florida, 103 pgs.
  • Reflections II Watercolors of Florida 1835-2000 (2012) ISBN Number 0615508596, Museum of Arts and Sciences, 360 pgs.
  • Reflections : Paintings of Florida 1865-1965 (2009) ISBN Number 0933053185, Museum of Arts and Sciences, 184 pgs.
  • A Treasury of American Art (2003) ISBN Number 0-933053-07-X, Museum of Arts and Sciences (Luce Foundation), 230 pgs.
  • Coast to Coast-The Contemporary Landscape in Florida (1999) ISBN Number 0-933053-14-2, Museum of Arts and Sciences, 119 pgs.
  • Celebrating Florida – Works of Art From The Vickers Collection (1995), ISBN Number first edition 0-933053-09-6, Museum of Arts and Sciences and the University Press of Florida, 144 pgs.
  • A Century of Jewelry and Gems (editor) (1995), ISBN Number 093305308, Museum of Arts and Sciences, 96 pgs.
  • A Treasury of Indian Miniature Painting (editor) (1992), ISBN Number 0933053045, 9780933053045, Museum of Arts and Sciences, 80 pgs.
  • Alexander Archipenko : Themes and Variations (editor) (1989), ISBN Number 0-933053-03-7, Museum of Arts and Sciences, 97pgs.

Honors and awards[edit]

  1. 2016 Stetson University, DeLand, Florida, dedicated the largest gallery in the Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center as the Gary R. Libby Gallery of Art.
  2. 2015 The University of Florida, College of the Arts, Gainesville, Florida, renamed the Focus Gallery as the Gary R. Libby Gallery of Art.[9]
  3. 2012 Bronze Award for Art History/Criticism from the Florida Book Awards for Reflections-II Watercolors of Florida 1865-2000.
  4. 2003 American Art Initiative Publication Award, from the Henry Luce Foundation, for A Treasury of American Art.
  5. 2000 Lifetime Achievement Award, the Florida Art Museum Directors Association.
  6. 1995 State of Florida Sesquicentennial Award, Florida Division of Historical Resources, for Celebrating Florida – Works of Art from the Vickers Collection and Statewide tour of the exhibition concluding in the visual arts galleries at the State Capitol, Tallahassee, Florida.
  7. 1998 Lifetime Achievement Award, Florida Association of Museums.
  8. 1999 Outstanding Community Leadership Award, Halifax Area Chamber of Commerce


  1. ^ See Tulane University of Louisiana, Record, Gary R. Libby, p 426-476 The Graduate School. March 15, 1972.
  2. ^ See Archives John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Two Centuries of Cuban Art: 1759-1959. 1980.
  3. ^ See Archives, University of Florida Foundation, Inc. Office of the Vice President, Appointment letter February 28, 2012.
  4. ^ For all City of Daytona Beach, Florida related items see City Clerk, City of Daytona Beach, Florida, Record of Appointments, Gary R. Libby.
  5. ^ "Stetson University Magazine Spring 2016, Volume 32, Issue 1, pg. 1". ISSUU.
  6. ^ Libby, Gary Russell (2009). Reflections: Paintings of Florida 1865 – 1965 From the Collection of Cici and Hyatt Brown. Museum of Arts and Sciences. ISBN 978-0933053182.
  7. ^ Reflections II: Watercolors of Florida 1835-2000, from the Collection of Cici and Hyatt Brown. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  8. ^ "Celebrating Florida - Works of Art from the Vickers Collection". YouTube.
  9. ^ "Muse, A Magazine published annually by the University of Florida College of the Arts, Spring, 2015, pg. 30". ISSUU.


  1. Gary R. Libby website
  2. Gary R. Libby Curriculum Vitae
  3. Gary R. Libby (introduction to Journey of the Highwaymen)
  4. Gary R. Libby (author of Cuba-A History in Art)
  5. Biography of author Gary R. Libby : Booking Appearances
  6. A Treasury of American Art by Gary R. Libby from Antiques and Fine Art
  7. Gary R. Libby, Paideuma
  8. Florida School of Art Exhibition Opens at Hand Art Center
  9. Florida Art at Stetson University
  10. Daytona arts leader Gary Libby honored with University…
  11. Gary R. Libby Gallery Dedication Brings Together College of Arts Alumni, Supporters and Friends

External links[edit]