Almost 100 years ago in 1910, the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York made history. The first woman to direct an art museum in the United States would be Cornelia Bentley Sage Quinton.
Ms. Quinton was a renaissance woman. She was an artist, administrator, and arts promoter in the United States. Her studies took her to the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, and the Art Student’s League in New York. The artists she regularly corresponded with were Robert Reid, John Twachtman, Robert Henri, and Childe Hassam.
While art director at the Albright Art Gallery she organized captivating exhibitions featuring Alfred Stieglitz, contemporary American sculpture, and the French School artists. Her support of French artists during the World War I, resulted in the prestigious Cross of the Legion of Honor.
With the help of a prestigious recommendation from the Louvre, she was the first director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor from 1924-1930. My next visit to the museum will have a new found interest and respect. As a result, Ms. Quinton’s appointments proved during the woman’s suffrage movement that women had the ability to run respected institutions.
Quinton made history living her life brilliantly.