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Edward W. Forbes (1873–1969)

Edward W. Forbes (1873–1969)

Edward Waldo Forbes was born on Naushon Island, Massachusetts, on July 16, 1873. He attended Milton Academy and Harvard University, where he studied art history and graduated in 1895, the year the Fogg Museum was founded at Harvard. Forbes joined the board of trustees at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1903, a position he held for sixty years. In 1904, he joined the visiting committee of the Fogg Museum and set about urging Harvard’s wealthy alumni to donate money and art to the Fogg. In 1909, he was appointed director of the Fogg Museum and was instrumental in the construction of a new building to house the enlarged collections in 1927. In 1915, Forbes invited Paul J. Sachs to become assistant director of the Fogg; he became associate director in 1923. The two formed a powerful professional partnership of fundraising, collecting, and educating both in art history and in museum studies. Forbes was appointed Martin A. Ryerson Professor in the Fine Arts at Harvard University in 1935. He retired from Harvard and the Fogg in 1944 and died at Belmont, Massachusetts, on March 11, 1969.


Agnes Mongan, John Coolidge, José Luis Sert, George Leslie Stout, and Elizabeth H. Jones, Edward Waldo Forbes: Yankee Visionary (Cambridge, Mass.: Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1971).


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