Oral Histories

Interview of Robert A. Rowan

President of the Pasadena Art Museum.
Growing Is Part of the Concept
Interviews not in a series, part one
Biographical Note:
President of the Pasadena Art Museum.
Goodwin, George M.
Rowan, Robert A.
Persons Present:
Rowan and Goodwin.
Place Conducted:
Rowan's home in Pasadena, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by George M. Goodwin, freelance consultant, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., art history, Lake Forest College; M.A., history, Columbia University; Ph.D., art education, Stanford University.
Processing of Interview:
Editing was done by Rebecca Andrade, assistant editor. She checked the verbatim transcript prepared by staff typists, editing for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling and verification of proper nouns.The edited transcript was presented to Rowan for review and approval. It was returned some time later with a covering letter (August 31, 19 81) from Jean Shriner, his secretary, noting that Rowan had not answered all queries submitted to him.Mitch Tuchman, principal editor reviewed the edited manuscript, restoring some phrases deleted in the initial editing and generating a new list of queries. Rowan answered all of these during a visit paid by Tuchman in July 1983.
6 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Family background and relationships; education in Europe and America; Merton College, Oxford; managing R. A. Rowan and Company; collects American painting; description of current collection; philosophy of collecting; Roy Lichtenstein; Frank Stella, the man and the artist; friendships with artists Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Ron Davis, William Wiley; art dealer system; change in art styles since 1947; art scene shifts from east to west; interest in contemporary artists; roots of abstract expressionism in the western United States; recent paintings of Ron Davis; association with the Pasadena Art Museum, early 1960s; decision to erect new museum building; growth of the permanent collection; unsuccessful exhibitions; the Galka Scheyer Blue Four Collection; relationship of professional staff and board; Walter Hopps; John Coplans; transition to Norton Simon Museum of Art; selection of an architect for museum building; Norton Simon and the permanent collection; keeping museum open to the public; Simon's role in museum policies; Simon and the museum board; International Council of the Museum of Modern Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art; Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art; smaller museums in Southern California: Newport, La Jolla, Santa Barbara; art collecting as an enrichment to life.