Oral Histories

Interview of Thomas W. Leavitt

Director of the Pasadena Art Museum.
Pasadena Art Museum: Thomas W. Leavitt
Oral History of the Pasadena Art Museum
Biographical Note:
Director of the Pasadena Art Museum.
Ratner, Joanne L.
Leavitt, Thomas W.
Persons Present:
Leavitt and Ratner.
Place Conducted:
Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, 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:
Virginia Carew, assistant editor, edited the interview. She 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 Leavitt in May 1989. He verified proper names, made some corrections and additions, and returned the transcript in July 1989.Richard Candida Smith, principal editor, prepared the table of contents. Alex Cline, assistant editor, prepared the interview history. Richard Martinez, editorial assistant, prepared the biographical summary.Lisa White, 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.
Training in art history; family background; hired as director of the Pasadena Art Museum in 1957; assessing the collection; the Art Alliance of the Pasadena Art Museum; decision to focus the museum on contemporary art; Leavitt's first exhibits at the museum; Eudorah M. Moore; social events at the museum; exhibits in the early 1960s; William Millarc retrospective offends Pasadena church leaders; Edward Kienholz exhibit; Walter Hopps; exhibition openings; the Galka Scheyer Blue Four Collection; California Design; Peter Voulkos and John Mason exhibitions; The Art of Assemblage picketed by veterans' groups; Leavitt's reasons for moving to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; the museum's annual operating budget; Robert A. Rowan; Leavitt's relationship with Eudorah Moore; initial planning for a new building; fund-raising; hiring Edward Durrell Stone; arrangement to buy paintings from Frederick Weisman; the Pasadena Playhouse; plans for a cultural center at Carmelita Park; plans to build a wing for Asian art; discontent over the museum's exclusively contemporary focus; Pasadena artists; volunteers at the museum; the museum's attendance and membership; members of the board of trustees; the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University.