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Charles Edward Buckley

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Charles Edward Buckley Obituary
BUCKLEY, Charles Edward A long time resident of Mont Vernon, NH, died peacefully on June 26, 2011. Buckley was the former director of the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH and the Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO. Born in South Hadley Center, MA in 1919, Buckley was a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with further study at the University of Chicago. He continued his studies at Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum where he focused on the history of art and art museum training under Professor Paul J. Sachs, whose students were to fill many key museum jobs in the 1930s and later. In 1948 Buckley received an M.A. degree from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University and then spent a year in Europe on a Harvard fellowship before joining the curatorial staff at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. In 1951 he took over the role of chief curator at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, CT. There he organized important exhibitions by such noted artists as Alexander Calder, Naum Gabo, Josef Albers and others. In 1955, as director of the Currier Museum of Art, he began an aggressive program of exhibitions and made outstanding purchases of New England 18th and 19th century furniture and silver. Among American artists whose work he acquired at this time were Edward Hopper, Marsden Hartley, and Maurice Prendergast. He also bought a number of important European works of art, most notably the superb bronze sculpture of a seated nude by Henri Matisse. In 1964 Buckley, assumed the directorship of the Saint Louis Art Museum. During his eleven year tenure he brought the staff to a high level of curatorial excellence, greatly enlarged the Museum's collections and with the curators, formed the Decorative Arts Society and the Contemporary Art Society. Many important works of art were acquired by these organizations. At the same time, he was closely involved in restoring much of the original splendor of the 1904 museum building designed by Cass Gilbert, one of the foremost architects of the time. As a scholar, Buckley was noted for bringing to the forefront a long neglected painter, Joseph Wright of Derby, England whose work is now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and many other museum collections. Buckley was a former president of the American Association of Museums from 1972-1974 and chairman of the AAM committee that created the now widely used system of museum accreditation. He was also a former trustee of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, the American Textile Museum, Lowell, MA and the NH Historical Society. Buckley is survived by a number of cousins and close friends. At his request there will be no services. Arrangements are by the Stockbridge Funeral Home,EXETER,NH.

Published in The Boston Globe on June 30, 2011
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