EG: We are Elizabeth Gettinger –
AS: Anne Steptoe –
JNSL: and Jeanne-Nicole Saint-Laurent.
EG: And we are here today, it is the 16th of July, 2009, at the National Gallery of Art, and we have the honor of interviewing Therese O’Malley. To get things started, we were wondering how you first came to hear about Dumbarton Oaks, and how you came to work there, and what your first impressions were.
TO: I was a student at the University of Pennsylvania – art history major – when Elizabeth McDougall came as a guest professor to teach, and I took that course. I had not ever heard of it before that, but also it was also a somewhat new program, the garden history. So, it was with Betty that I started. I had been doing some landscape history on my own in Philadelphia, so I was intrigued by this professor from Harvard who was actually doing it full-time, because it really wasn’t a very common specialty when I started.
AS: And it was from her you learned about the junior fellowship?
AS: And then you were a Junior Fellow in ‘82?
TO: I guess so! Yes, I came as a reader first. ‘81-’82 I was a reader; we moved to Washington - my husband was at Georgetown doing his internship, and then I applied and then I was a Junior Fellow. Then after that I came here to the National Gallery as a research assistant, and never left.
JS: Who were some of the other Fellows of that time, both senior and junior? Who were some of the other figures at Dumbarton Oaks in the different fields?
TO: With me was Ann Friedman and Mary-Anne Ruggiero, two of the other Junior Fellows; in the other departments, Simon Ellis, Oliver Nicholson, Margaret, who’s coming down as director –
JS: – Margaret Mullet! –
TO: – was a Fellow.
JS: She’s Director of Byzantine Studies now.
TO: So, we were a very close group. It was a very nice interaction among the three departments; there was never any separation there.
AS: Could you talk a little bit about - we’ve heard many different things about the social side of Dumbarton Oaks, but it sounds like that was a particularly good time.
TO: It was a good time! We were already living in Washington, so we didn’t live in the fellows’ residence; we were in Georgetown. Maybe because of where we were located, which was right on P St. and Wisconsin Ave, our house became a very lively center gathering place; a lot of spontaneous parties. But Margaret was terrific, because she really had a sense of how to bring departments and people together. She set up a Thursday afternoon kind of – we didn’t use the word happy hour, it was something, I forget – but it was really a great thing for the Fellows and Junior Fellows, and some of us were quite young. For me this was a very new experience, to be in a place like this, and it’s true for most of us. It was so international, and learning about fields of endeavor that you’d never really heard about. One of the other Fellows was Gian Carlo – what’s his name; you’ll know him, he’s a great linguist, I think he knew ten dead Ethiopian dialects or something, he’s a fantastic guy, teaches in Parma, I believe. And archaeologists and historians and great, great scholars who would come through. Belting was there all the time, and the great coin specialist –
AS: – Grierson.
TO: Ševčenko, of course, was always there. Socially and intellectually it was a very important training period for people like me.
EG: Were there teas at that time or anything of that sort – regularly scheduled social functions?
TO: No, this was what Margaret did. There was a great Halloween party every year. Giles scared the living daylights out of us, because he would come totally in costume, and he was a rather imposing person. Anyway, I don’t know if any of you know Giles Constable.
JS: They interviewed him last summer.
TO: He’s about 6’10’’ or something - he probably isn’t, but he always seemed that way, looming. And he would come, I remember, completely bent over, shrouded in black, and move through the crowd and you had no idea who he was, and ugh. He did it a couple Halloweens in a row. But also his first wife was a very genteel, lovely woman, who really just added a wonderful kind of feminine, I don’t know, warm feeling to the whole atmosphere. Judy Siggins was there then too, and Elizabeth Boone was great; the senior scholars – the way they reached out to the junior scholars, staff and senior Fellows, they reached out to the younger ones in a way that really, probably for the first time, for me certainly, you were treated as an equal, and encouraged, and they wanted to hear what you had to say. It was a terrific experience that way.
AS: Can you talk a little about what daily life was like? It sounds like there were many special occasions, but on a typical day as a Junior Fellow, what was your day like? What were your responsibilities?
TO: I was there before the whole renovation, so we had a very different area; we were quite separated down in the lower level, the basement. We got to work. We were usually there at the point where we’re writing up our dissertations, so it was pretty serious work. I did a lot of work – being in Washington, this is like CASVA, too – Washington became a tremendous city for research in these years, and that’s why it’s so great today. But these are the years these things were building, and the Library of Congress was just a treasure trove. I’m an Americanist; I work on eighteenth and nineteenth century mostly colonial and early American topics, and my dissertation’s on the Mall. So, I had my base at Dumbarton Oaks, and the library was great; it really was a terrific library even at that stage, for my topic. And also just to learn the discipline, to read outside your field, doing all this primary research but also learning how to write a dissertation in your field. My field was rather new and so we had everything, and we had Betty McDougall there, who was really pioneering, and then it’s been followed by all these great leaders in the field. I myself was able to use the Library of Congress, the natural history, the botany library – not the National Gallery so much; it didn’t have materials for me, but I used all the archives in Washington. Because of the planning of Washington – it was a federal program, so I worked in the White House. And of course, coming from Dumbarton Oaks, there was a certain entrée you got because of your affiliation. I really used the city. For someone else it might not be that way; maybe they’re working on an Italian topic and they bring with them a lot of materials, but then the resource is there. Also because our field, landscape and garden history, is very interdisciplinary, and depending on what your training is, what your interests are, you’ll need different kinds of library strengths. I was trained as an architectural historian, and Betty McDougall certainly had that direction, so the library had been built up very much to support that. Someone else interested in archaeology or in literary history of gardens would find other resources.
AS: At that point were there still runners to the Library of Congress from Dumbarton Oaks? At one point there were individuals who would go and get books for Junior Fellows and Fellows. Were you making trips?
TO: That’s what we do here. I believe they were brought in. I’m trying to remember who that was; I don’t remember who that would have been. But yeah, we did use – but I actually had a shelf there, too, so I would go there regularly and get books. In those days the Library of Congress was completely open; I could wander through the entire thing and just pull things off the shelves, and I had a desk up in the attic, so it was really nice access.
JS: Did you ever hear any interesting stories or anecdotes about Mrs. Bliss and Beatrix Farrand – perhaps from Betty McDougall or some of the older folks who worked in your field – about the gardens themselves and how Dumbarton Oaks developed as a center for this field, as a unique center, as I understand it, for garden and landscape studies?
TO: You know, I’ve written an article on that. It hasn’t come out yet, but because I could – from your question, you didn’t know a few things that I could tell you that would be useful for the history of D.O. Last April or the April before, there was a symposium at Dumbarton Oaks on the occasion of the reopening of the building, and all those papers are being prepared right now for publication. James is the editor. I wrote a history of the garden library. That might be useful for you to read. Yes, I’ve worked a lot on that topic, and it’s a great history. It’s a history not only of collecting, the history of the profession, history of the field, of architecture, history of intellectual activities in this country, history of Washington D.C. as it developed post-war, and the Blisses and Dumbarton Oaks played very, very key role in all of this. Actually I wanted to say that about one of your questions here, "there are physical changes, most notably the addition of the garden library." The garden library existed from the founding of Dumbarton Oaks.
AS: What was the building project in ‘64, then? Was that a reopening.
TO: It was a building, a physical building, at the same time as the Pre-Columbian pavilion. These things should be seen together, because you have two emerging areas of specialization in the history of art and the history of culture, which is the study of Pre-Columbian art and the study of gardens and landscapes, that the Blisses are very much supporting simultaneously. It’s a very interesting contrast, because Philip Johnson designs this ultra-modern statement of a pavilion, and Mrs. Bliss is right there with him designing it – she’s very much a key part about it, and if you read Philip Johnson’s introduction to the book by Susan Tamulevich, which is a history of Dumbarton Oaks, he talks about his relationship with Mrs. Bliss. But at the same time she had commissioned Frederic Rhinelander King, who’s a very old-fashioned architect, and he designs this very retro building that we have as the garden library, but it’s absolutely simultaneous. What has not happened is the recognition of the history of landscape and garden interest in collecting as much as the Byzantine collecting, because that’s always been very big, and with Harvard they made it the primary area of development, and also it has a much longer historiography and is just very much more an established field than other two, particularly garden history and landscape history, but Dumbarton Oaks really has been the cradle in this country of the field, a field which has now risen to be one of the more primary fields in art history. It’s really seen with the new art history as being the kind of area of research that should be done. If you read Stephen Bann, he wrote an essay years and years ago about what the new art history will be, and one of the areas he identifies as the area to be looked at is garden history. This is long before his association with Dumbarton Oaks. So, Dumbarton Oaks, really beginning with Mrs. Bliss’s own collecting interest – and that’s a whole other angle: why was she interested in this, who else was interested in this? And there were a lot of very, very important women in America interested in collecting garden books, and they basically cornered the market and created a market for the collection of these kinds of material, Mrs. Mellon being one of the primary examples. Mrs. Hunt in Pittsburgh; in California there were a couple of women who were building these great collections. But anyway, I could go on and on about this. You’d better ask me another question.
EG: Did you get a sense of Mrs. Bliss’s mission for the garden and architecture program?
TO: It’s quite explicit. In the beginning, Beatrix Farrand had founded in Maine, at her own home, a small research center that had certain goals: the study of historic gardens, the training of gardeners and landscape designers, to become a resource center for information about local flora. She very much influenced Mrs. Bliss, but Mrs. Bliss already had an interesting collection; she had been collecting for a long time already. But they had been talking about the gardens and garden library since 1920. We have a 1922 letter which really lays out a lot of these goals that get carried through. The building of the garden is seen very much as a laboratory for the study of garden history. So, they’re integral, and it took decades – things like the war. The Blisses, in all the years they owned it – I think a total of less than seven years, maybe, they lived there, is that what you’ve heard?
AS: They gifted it in ‘40.
TO: And all the time they were building it, the ‘20s and ‘30s, they weren’t here, so it’s something that from the very beginning of its purchase they identified as something that would have another life. But this is something that’s happening in a lot of places in America. It has to be seen in the context of what Mr. du Pont is doing for Winterthur; he was building a center for the study of American culture. He was one of the first members of the board of the garden library for Dumbarton Oaks. There are very, very tight relationships between these people, and a lot of people in Europe. The whole Florentine expat community, the creation of Le Balze, La Pietra, I Tatti. That’s all key and part of the social community they were dealing with; Beatrix Farrand’s aunt is Edith Wharton, and she was very much a part of that whole Anglo-American community in Florence involved in building all these research centers, so it’s not a unique situation, something that’s happening. Also the Folgers were just giving that whole collection to Washington at the same time.
AS: The integration you that you talked about between the gardens and garden history that was sort of a Bliss legacy or goal, was that true when you were a Fellow? Was there some sort of integration between the fellowship program and the physical gardens? Of course, everyone is busy with their own studies, but you do have a great resource in that there are beautiful historical gardens right next to you.
TO: Well, for someone like me, who works on American gardens, you could see I was interested in the design of this garden from the beginning. My dissertation wasn’t about it, but you work in one of the best-designed gardens in America, and Beatrix Farrand is one of our greatest designers, so for me it was part of my intellectual pursuit as well. In terms of the experience of being a Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, it was integral to our experience there, because we were there in the gardens as much as possible, and we were talking in the gardens, and meeting in the gardens, and using it for our communion with each other, so it was integral. In terms of the horticultural collections, I wasn’t looking at horticulture at that point there. I was looking at horticulture in Washington in the eighteenth century, nineteenth century, not – this is something very different.
JNSL: What was the most exciting project through the years that you’ve been pleased to be a part of in terms of your associations with Dumbarton Oaks? – a symposium, or so on. Your fondest – ?
TO: That’s hard to say. I was a Senior Fellow for I don’t know how long –
AS: – about ten years, I think.
TO: Always picking the fellowships. There’s a lot of responsibility there, because you’re building the field. You’re very conscious of the fact that you’re building the field. That was great. You see what’s out there and you get to choose who you think is the best, and then you get to meet them and encourage them and they become your colleagues, so that’s always been a tremendous thing for me. But then I did the Downing Facsimile; that was a book – there’s a facsimile series for the garden library, and there’ve been a couple, a half-dozen or so. This was a good experience for me for editorial reasons. What they do is they look for a notable book in the collection that’s not widely available, and then they reprint it and someone writes an essay with it. So, that’s what I did with Downing’s treatise on the history of landscape gardening. This was around the 1840s. Dumbarton Oaks had a good edition of it but it was missing something. We were able to collaborate with the Library of Congress and get pages from theirs and insert them, so that what we actually published was a better edition than Dumbarton Oaks has. That was, for me – I learned so much in the process of doing that kind of publication, and it’s stayed with me, because now that’s what I primarily do here – our publications with CASVA. But the John Evelyn project was something that was very dear to my heart, because I was working on Evelyn – this was during John Hunt’s time there, and he of course had worked on Evelyn. I was able to go look at the manuscript which was never published; it was this great work, this magnum opus that was never published; it was a comprehensive history of gardens. Parts of it have been published over the years so we know some things through published form, but the actual manuscript – people just never could see this thing because it’s massive. It’s a mess that has all these interleaved editions and everything. We did a big project to bring together a person from Wiliamsburg – and John Hunt was behind all of this – who had been working on a transcription of it, and we made the transcription available to a handful of scholars, who read it and then came and gave a symposium. Then we published the symposium papers and then John, through Pin Press, has published a facsimile of that book. So, this is a multi-year, long-term project involving lots of people, but it’s a very key work that is now well-known by many, many people and used, and it’s a very nice collaboration. So, that kind of thing that you can pull off, never as an individual – you need a team of people, you need cooperating institutions – you can really do something big and important. And I did appreciate very much one little detail, in that the garden symposia are very successful. Anytime you mention gardens you have at least two different audiences that come together, an amateur audience and a scholarly audience, and they mix up beautifully. We always have usually a sold-out crowd. John Evelyn was so esoteric; people came and didn’t make it through the whole thing. What I appreciated at the end of it was – and it led to a lot of discussion – that, you know what, that’s what Dumbarton Oaks can do; it can do a scholarly conference. We don’t care who comes. We’re not selling out; the point is not to be popular. That high point of quality for that place, I think should always be maintained.
AS: That was an unusual symposium, in that it wasn’t only esoteric in subject, relatively speaking; it was also much more specific than most of the symposia topics. Is that fair to say?
TO: Yeah, probably true. I’m thinking of Loudon, the one on Loudon. We’ve done them on individuals; there was one on Downing, there was one on Loudon and the picturesque. But about one manuscript, I can’t think of another parallel to that. Although what that manuscript represented, it was the history of the Royal Society, basically. It was the history of the foundations of garden history, actually. Really, on the face of it, it looked very narrow, but if you look at the papers, it was really quite broad. And that’s the way we sliced it, basically, to blow it up, to make it a much more complicated and broad topic.
EG: Did you work on any interdisciplinary symposia with Pre-Columbian or Byzantine studies? Was there anything like that at the time?
TO: Interdisciplinary was always three departments. I know there have been; I’ve attended them, but did I work on them? I can’t remember working on them.
EG: So, those are more rare than most?
TO: Oh, they’re very rare. That was a big party trick, to come up with a topic that brings together the three fields. Joachim was able to do that at some point. What we have done, we’ve done programs with CASVA and Dumbarton Oaks, and we did one on sustainability in agriculture. That was quite interdisciplinary.
AS: How over the years have you interacted with the museum and its collections? The garden collection is a little bit different, we’ve gotten the sense, than maybe some of the other collections at Dumbarton Oaks.
TO: See, this is a particular – how should I put it. I’m always bothered by the fact that the library, the garden materials are never considered part of the museum. I just think that the objects that are in the garden library – we have a very important collection. And there’s no one big catalog on the garden library, and there really should be. You know, they’ve just published that square one on the museum – great hits – there absolutely should be one on the library and the collection of prints and drawings and paintings that are in there. They’re very important. But your question really was about – you mean the Byzantine and the Pre-Columbian materials, and my interactions with those?
AS: No, I think your interactions with the garden materials – did you interact a lot with the collection?
TO: The library collection?
AS: It’s strange to talk about the collection, because it’s not treated as maybe as official as the museum collection in Byzantine or Pre-Columbian, but is there a lot of interaction between Fellows and the collection in garden history?
TO: Absolutely. People write dissertations on things in that collection. They write books on them. The Downing book was about a book in the collection. I’ve just published a book called The Art of Natural History which is through here. I edited it with Amy Meyers, who is also a former Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks. We published an article on this great manuscript from Prague, and there’s just so many examples of – this is this great manuscript that’s in Dumbarton Oaks’s collection that has never been really published. I also just recommended to an exhibition that’s going on in England and at Yale the Mrs. Delaney manuscript that we have at Dumbarton Oaks that nobody ever really has looked at. But it was on display a year or two ago in the garden library, and I knew about it because I’d been reading all the correspondence about Mrs. Bliss’s purchases for this article on building the collection, and I saw that they had bought this book by Mrs. Delaney and I didn’t know they had it, so I tracked it down. It’s going to be in this exhibition at Yale now and in London. So, I am constantly referring to the collection and have been since day one. It’s a very important, very diverse collection there. There’s a wonderful letter by Thomas Jefferson about slavery there. She collected a lot of first editions and a lot of manuscript letters from all fields. She had all these early Jane Austens. Fantastic collection. So yeah, I did use it a lot. Everyone used it a lot.
EG: Has there been any sort of exhibition at Dumbarton Oaks of documents or manuscripts or objects in landscape?
TO: Many, many exhibitions.
EG: Were you involved in them?
TO: No, I haven’t done any exhibitions. No, that’s something usually the Directors of Studies would do; that would be their role. But they always use those vitrines, you know, that are in the hallways outside? There are some great photographs of using the Music Room to display botanical books. Have you seen those?
EG: I don’t think so.
TO: They just set up tables and put all the books out, for special occasions, when people come in. No, this was way before the symposia. They didn’t start until pretty late, the symposia. But they would, in those vitrines, put out exhibits of objects when they related to the particular symposium.
JNSL: You’re in a unique position, through your association here at CASVA and at Dumbarton Oaks to comment on the role of Dumbarton Oaks, both the gardens and the museum and the collection and the fellowship program, all of that together, as it sits in Washington. How do you see its place as opposed to a lot of other wonderful museums in the city and so on, in terms of public mission as well? That’s a complicated question. How do you see the mission of Dumbarton Oaks in the city of Washington?
TO: Well, maybe I could approach that by talking about how the various research institutes see themselves as part of the network of them within the city. We’re so fortunate to be in a city where museums are largely public, and there’s a very, very keen awareness that the city belongs to the people. We’re really – basically we’re out sitting right here on the Mall. There are a lot of different kinds of audiences and Dumbarton Oaks, like we are here – we are very lucky to be able to serve multiple audiences at the same time. We can have, as we do, so many public programs and access, but we can also have closed programs so that we can address a professional audience. So, Dumbarton Oaks does the same thing. They have open hours, they have public lectures, they have publicity that reaches everybody, but they can have a meeting of five world experts on a very, very specific topic, thereby affording the advancement of knowledge. They’re also a university-owned institution; they’re private. They don’t have nearly the burden we have, as a public institution, to maintain our public access. But we’re very lucky because we have a huge department of education that does all kinds of public programs, all public programs, and we also have CASVA, which can do professional programs. I don’t know the extent of the public programming at Dumbarton Oaks currently, but I do know that it exists, so I see them as fulfilling a very important mission to serve multiple audiences, and serve them really very, very richly. Does that answer that question?
JNSL: Yes, thank you.
TO: We have an organization we all belong to called – what do we call it. Well, we have a couple of organizations; we have ARIAH, which is the Association of Research Institutes in Art History, and Dumbarton Oaks and the gallery are two of the founding members of it, and there are now about twenty-two organizations in North American that have residential research fellowships, and we meet a couple times a year to discuss shared problems and things like that. Dumbarton Oaks is a very active part of that network, and then there’s a Washington-based consortium – we call it the Collegium, actually – of I think there are probably about sixteen research institutes in Washington in the humanities that get together to do the same thing. So, it’s a very important member of these things.
EG: You’ve spoken a little bit about this already, but I was wondering if you could tell us how you see Dumbarton Oaks’s role in the field of garden and landscape studies as a whole, and if you see that role as having changed over the years.
TO: The role has always been – because it was so early and so constant a force of energy, it’s absolutely critical to the development of the field, which you have to realize has really developed over the past thirty, forty years from almost nonexistent to a real powerhouse now of academic and scholarly activities, and Dumbarton Oaks has just pushed it all the way along. If you look at the alumni of Dumbarton Oaks, you’re reading a list of all the major authors, professors, activists in the field. I’m biased, but I’m not completely biased, because I’ve been at a lot of other places that do support it regularly, but they’re not as big a program, so dedicated. Institutes from all over the world look at it and try to participate with what Dumbarton Oaks does, in its publishing and its support through fellowships and its scholarly meetings. There are people who never miss the Dumbarton Oaks symposium; it just happens every year. Oh, there are people who take all kinds of sides, there’s a lot of argument through all this and people have sides and opinions and they won’t come for two years because they’re mad at the topics, but they’ll come back. And each Director has lent their own tone to it and their own particular interest and direction, which is so important. It really has changed that way, but art history is always changing too. It would be terrible if it was the same as it was forty years ago, it would be really terrible. So, you have to keep changing your direction; I think what’s good about the board of advisors or the Senior Fellows is that you always bring in people from different areas. You don’t want to have a board made up of people who don’t argue. It’s really important to have different points of view and methodologies represented among the board, so that they pick people who are constantly reflecting diversity of the field.
AS: As far as your experience as a Senior Fellow, what were the major discussions and projects that you remember from that time?
TO: Well, projects, you mean dissertations topics? There actually are projects; there are a few projects that would come along. One was someone who was looking at, throughout the Middle East, lodges; they were very scattered, I remember that one. Scott Redford, I think. The garden at Pukler-Muskau, there was a request for support to help restore it; that’s a garden that borders Germany and Poland, so when the walls came down there was a reunification of this garden, and so there’s a great conservation effort there, and so we supported that. I’m trying to think. It was a long time ago. I do remember one project for someone who was looking at the idea of ruins in early eighteenth-century colonial development in Maryland, specifically, the idea of – you know, there’s been a lot of bad literature about how Americans didn’t really get to think about gardens until they were well-established, they weren’t fighting the Indians anymore – that’s a quotation. So, looking at early colonial material and understanding better the importance of gardens and landscape issues was a new way to – she was an archaeologist who was looking at physical evidence of this, but she wanted to look at the conceptual background of building ruins in a colonial plantation, what that might mean. That was a good one, I thought. There are lots.
AS: I think while you were a Senior Fellow, that was when – the famous 1944 conference at Dumbarton Oaks – I think there must have been an anniversary?
EG: An exhibition or something, at that time?
AS: It was a major project.
TO: Fifty-year anniversary.
AS: Do you remember anything about that?
TO: I just remember that it happened. I wasn’t participating in that at all. Didn’t Joachim do the show on that, and he wrote the essay on it and everything? That was wonderful. Anytime anyone gets time to look at the history of the institution, I think it’s terrific. That’s what I’ve been trying to do with the garden library, because it tells you a lot about the times.
JNSL: You mentioned the international character of Dumbarton Oaks, and I was wondering if you could comment how is – if in your field is Dumbarton Oaks is unique in that sense, in the types of people that it can bring together, in the United States, or what face does it present to the international community as an American institution to your field?
TO: Well, to have an institution that has a dedicated library and fellowship program and meetings and publication program in this field is unique, I think. I’m trying to think. At York they were trying to create a center for the study of the garden, and it’s had ups and downs, but that was more of a training program. This is not a degree-granting institution, and that’s very important to it. So, in many ways it’s the only place to go. You can go to places to study particular cultural – if you have a focus on western America, for instance, the Huntington is fabulous, because you can do anything; their library is just incredibly rich for an exploration, western history and all that, plus a lot of other things, but it’s not about landscape. It’s about that cultural topic, through which you would focus in your own area. But to have a library that is dedicated so much to the approach or the topic of landscape and garden history, within which you would focus on American or French or Germany, that’s really something. I can’t think of anywhere else – has anyone come up with anywhere else that you could think of? I know there have been attempts, and it really hasn’t happened.
JNSL: It struck me, too, how many of the Directors of Studies have not been Americans. We’ve had a handful in garden and landscape, but there have been several Europeans, too. I guess that’s true of all the fields, though.
TO: I think that’s true of art history, and history, and American academics. But maybe Dumbarton Oaks has always – the Blisses were diplomats, so there has always been a completely international community, surrounded and connected. It’s where the UN was established.
AS: As far as the Directors of Study go, what were your interactions as a Junior Fellow and then a Senior Fellow with the different Directors of Study at the time? Were there a lot of interactions?
TO: Oh yeah, constantly. Giles was scary, because I was then just beginning, but he was just so important in terms of imbuing you with confidence, making you feel serious because he was serious with you. Robert Thomson – he was there part of the time I was on the board, and also Angeliki was part of the time, too. They preside over the meetings, so you have to convince them of what it is you want to have happen – so, you have that kind of exchange. Joachim I knew very well, and I continue – we’re actually publishing a book together right now. We worked on one of the study volumes together at Dumbarton Oaks. So, he’s someone that I have continued to see and work with. John I think is terrific because of his very different approach to things. I think this idea of having exhibitions in the gardens is brilliant, and I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before. But he’s the one to really make it happen, because of all his experience with contemporary art. Michel I worked a lot with, because he’s been here for the past ten years. He was always very good about bringing his Fellows here; we would try to mix up the Dumbarton Oaks and CASVA Fellows. We have a very important event at the opening of the academic year, where we invite the new Fellows in town to come together and meet each other, but I always try to get the garden Fellows over here as well, and make sure they get to use the library and that kind of thing. He was very keen in helping me to find a research project that’s now actually being published, Keywords in American Landscape Design, because he had published a book like that on French landscape. Also his whole broadening globally the interest in landscape was extremely important to the field. You asked me about the international view of Dumbarton Oaks; no one could ever fault it for being elitist, European focused, or an old-fashioned art history bastion at all. He really blew it open with both the global expansion but also the look at contemporary design, which in fact harkens back very much to Mrs. Bliss’s original intention, because the first group of Fellows were all architects, landscape architects. They weren’t historians because there weren’t historians yet. That was just really beginning. So I think John is just going to really advance it in that direction of contemporary design and the interaction of art in the garden. I think that’s great.
AS: Did you notice any difference in tone between administrations – as far as the overall Dumbarton Oaks Director? Was it different to be a person at Dumbarton Oaks under a Constable administration as opposed to a Thomson or a Laiou administration?
TO: Yes, it was different. It always is different. But it is what it is.
JNSL: Were you there as a Junior Fellow when Elizabeth Taylor was living across the street – were you part of that? Did you ever see any fun glimpses?
TO: Just the buses that would slow down. They still slow down. But they would just slow down. I can’t say I ever caught a glimpse.
EG: Just sort of broadly, have you noticed any changes in Dumbarton Oaks in the time that you’ve been there, from the ‘80s to the present, in terms of academic life or socially? That’s sort of general but –
TO: Well, I guess you could say yes and no. Because there are always little differences, always changes, and there are changes in interest and in what’s getting supported because of those interests changing. Changes like art in the garden is a very great change – things like that – and there are practical things that change too. The security has increased tremendously. There are shifts in authorities. But on the other hand, it’s still the place you go to to get a certain kind of work done, and you know you can get it done there, and it still maintains a very important profile, not only in the individual fields, but in academic life in general. It has not slipped; it has only gotten greater. So yes and no.
AS: I think that’s all the questions I had. Is there anything we left out?
JNSL: Any closing comments, or – ?
TO: No, let me see if I had anything here. We talked about the different direction. You didn’t list Ned Keenan, but of course he was a very big innovator at Dumbarton Oaks. He loved to brag about how he hid the Pre-Columbian – you’ve heard this, I’m sure – he hid the Pre-Columbian card catalog for a year – this is the myth, anyway, who knows – before anyone ever mentioned that it was missing. He deserves some credit for updating digital scholarship in that regard. No, I think that’s everything you had mentioned.
EG: All right, well, thank you for talking with us today.