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Beaumont Hall

Beaumont Newhall

AUTHOR OF THE HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY

Honored November, 1990

Beaumont Newhall

Photographic historian Beaumont Newhall's earliest memory is set in a darkroom. "I was standing beside my mother in her darkroom while she was developing plates," he recalled. "I thought it was magic that made a picture on a piece of glass."

Born in 1908, Beaumont spent his childhood in Lynn, Massachusetts, before going off to Andover Academy and Harvard. Although he had a desire to study film and photography, he settled on art history as the most closely related subject Harvard offered at the time. "I loved it," he said, and even though he came of age during the Depression, in 1931 his teacher and mentor Paul J. Sachs helped him find a job at the Pennsylvania Museum of Art in Philadelphia. Following studies in Paris, in 1935 he became librarian at the then seven-year-old Museum of Modern Art in New York City. There, in 1937, he curated MOMA's first photography show, an overview of the art form.