Jonathan Leo Fairbanks

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Jonathan Leo Fairbanks
Born (1933-02-19) February 19, 1933 (age 85)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Nationality American
Education University of Utah
University of Pennsylvania
University of Delaware
Occupation Artist

Jonathan Leo Fairbanks (born February 19, 1933 in Ann Arbor) is an American artist and expert of American arts and antiques. Fairbanks created the American Decorative Arts and Sculpture department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,[1] and served as the Curator of the department from 1970-99.[2]

Fairbanks is the son of the American sculptor, Avard Fairbanks. He was born in Ann Arbor while his father was teaching at the University of Michigan.[3]

Fairbanks is on the Board of Directors of the Fairbanks Family in America, Inc., which owns and operates the house.[4] He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Utah and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania through a joint program with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He earned a second master's degree, an M.A. in American Culture, from the University of Delaware in the Winterthur Museum Fellowship Program.[5] He served at the museum as an Associate Curator in charge of conservation for nine years.[3]

Fairbanks has served as curator for several exhibits, including "Becoming a Nation, Americana from the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State," which toured eight cities from April 2003 until January 2005. He was also the Sr. Vice President of, the Editor at Large for the Catalogue of Antiques and Fine Art, and a Research Associate at Boston University.[2] He is on the Board of Directors of the Decorative Arts Trust, of which he was President for 12 years.[6] Fairbanks served as Vice President of Research for[2] In 2012, he was appointed the Director of the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA.[7] Five years later, in 2017, he retired to become the museum's Senior Research Associate and Director Emeritus.[8]

Some of Fairbanks’ artwork is owned by institutions such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Boston Public Library, the Wye House and Myrtle Grove on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the Alhambra in southern Spain.[3] His work was featured in the exhibit, “Jonathan Leo Fairbanks, A Painter's Journey, 1952-2004,” which was on display at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, MD in 2004.[9]

Fairbanks has received several awards, including the Victorian Society of America Award for Conservation, The Charles F. Montgomery Award from the Decorative Arts Society, The Urban Glass Award for Exceptional Museum Glass Exhibition, The Ellen Banning Ayer Award for Contributions to Arts and Culture, and the Lifetime Achievement Medal from the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston. In 2003 the Decorative Arts Trust announced the endowment of The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lectureship in honor of Fairbanks’ achievements.[10] In 2003, the Furniture Society bestowed upon Fairbanks the Award of Distinction.[5] In 2006 Fairbanks received the Iris Foundation Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Decorative Arts by the Bard Graduate Center.[11] In 2009, Fairbanks was honored by Fuller Craft Museum as a Luminary.[12] In 2016, he received the President's award from Old Sturbridge Village.[13] Jonathan was further honored in 2017 with the tenth anniversary AD 20/21 Lifetime Achievement Award.[14]

His daughter is Theresa Fairbanks Harris, senior conservator for works on paper at the Yale Center for British Art and Yale University Art Gallery.[15]


  1. ^ "Fairbanks, to present 'A Painter's Journey' in October" The Westwood Press October 12, 2005
  2. ^ a b c "Dedham Historical Society April 2004 Newsletter". Archived from the original on October 3, 2006. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
  3. ^ a b c Utah Artist Project: Jonathan Leo Fairbanks
  4. ^ "The Homestead Courier" A Newsletter of the Fairbanks Family in America, Inc., Spring 2006
  5. ^ a b Jonathan Fairbanks: Scholar, Educator, Curator, Award of Distinction Recipient Presented by The Furniture Society June 14, 2003
  6. ^ About the Decorative Arts Trust Archived 2008-07-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Edgers, Geoff. "Energetic new director hopes to revive Fuller Craft Museum". Boston Globe. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  8. ^ Gay, Malcolm. "Head of Fuller Craft Museum Stepping Down". Boston Globe. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  9. ^ "The Homestead Courier" A Newsletter of the Fairbanks Family in America, Inc. Fall 2004
  10. ^ "Fairbanks Lectureship Endowed" Antiques and the Arts Online May 20, 2003 Archived January 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Recipients of the Iris Foundation Award Archived 2008-06-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Montague, Chip. "Fuller Craft Museum Welcomes New Director Jonathan Fairbanks". Washington Glass School. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  13. ^ "Winterthur Alum Jonathan Fairbanks Receives the Old Sturbridge President's Award". Material Matters: Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Jonathan Fairbanks to Receive AD 20/21 Lifetme Achievement Award". Maine Antique Digest. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  15. ^