Oral Histories

Interview of Thomas G. Terbell Jr.

Director of the Pasadena Art Museum.
Pasadena Art Museum: Thomas G. Terbell, Jr.
Oral History of the Pasadena Art Museum
Biographical Note:
Director of the Pasadena Art Museum.
Ratner, Joanne L.
Terbell, Thomas G. Jr.
Persons Present:
Terbell and Ratner.
Place Conducted:
Tape I: Department of Special Collections,University Research Library, UCLA; Tapes II and III: Holiday Inn 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 Joanne L. Ratner, Researcher/Interviewer, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., American Studies/Art History, Scripps College; M.A., Art History/Museum Studies, University of Southern California.Ratner prepared for the interview by reviewing a variety of materials directly related to the Pasadena Art Museum, including minutes of the executive committee from 1958 to 1974, calendars of events, exhibition catalogs and reviews, scrapbooks, newspaper and magazine articles, California Design files, and essays, brochures, and speeches pertaining to the museum's early history. In addition, Ratner read relevant interviews conducted by the UCLA Oral History Program for its Los Angeles Art Community: Group Portrait series.
Processing of Interview:
David P. Gist, assistant editor, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.The edited transcript was sent to Terbell in December 1987. He verified proper names, made minor corrections and additions, and returned the transcript in spring 1988.Richard Candida Smith, principal editor, prepared the table of contents. Alex Cline, assistant editor, prepared the biographical summary. Richard Martinez, editorial assistant, prepared the interview history.Richard Iosty, editorial assistant, prepared the index.
3 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series focuses on the history of the Pasadena Museum of Art and its role as a pathbreaking venue for contemporary art in Southern California in the 1960s.
Education; Alfred Esberg; going to work for Security First National Bank; development of interest in art; marriage to Melinda Wortz; involvement with the Art Alliance of the Pasadena Art Museum; the operations committee; Terbell elected to the board of trustees; Robert A. Rowan; search committee formed to find new director after James T. Demetrion resigned in 1969; Terbell becomes director of the museum; relationship between the board of trustees and professional staff; Terbell's goals as director; assessment of need for the new building; community reaction to the new building; the building fund committee; the Wesley I. Dumm pledge; the opening of the new building in November 1969; planning of the opening exhibition; the Richard Serra exhibition; plans for an Asian art wing; deaccessioning; difficulties with fund-raising; need for corporate sponsorship; assessment of the financial problems of the museum; Eudorah M. Moore; John Coplans; assessing the effectiveness of the board of trustees in the early 1970s; William C. Agee; assessment of California Design; James T. Demetrion; Walter Hopps; Terbell's decision to resign as director in 1971; the Norton Simon takeover; assessment of factors contributing to the demise of the Pasadena Art Museum; the cultural climate in Pasadena; interests and activities since leaving the museum.