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James Archer Abbott

Director and Curator
Evergreen Museum and Library

Telephone:  (410) 516-0431, ext. 14

James Archer Abbott serves as Director and Curator of Johns Hopkins University’s Evergreen Museum & Library – one of two museums owned and operated by the university.  In this position, he oversees programming, collections care, exhibitions planning, and general fundraising, while also serving as an adjunct professor with the University. For JHU, he has taught a series of courses addressing 20th century Modernism within the Curating Culture Program.  The first installment (Spring 2009) addressed the career of Czech-American industrial designer Erno Fabry (1906-1984), and this culminated in a touring, student co-curated exhibition and co-authored publication.  For 2010, the subject is Baltimore-born internationally recognized interior designer Billy Baldwin (1903-1983).  Mr. Abbott also co-teaches a fall photography course that emphasizes aspects of EM&L’s collections. 

James Abbott received his B.A. in American History from Vassar College in 1986, and his M.A., cum laude, in Museum Studies from the State University of New York-Fashion Institute of Technology in 1994.  He attended the Attingham Summer School on the British Country House in 1991. 

Prior to his JHU appointment, James Abbott served as a curator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, as well as an adjunct professor for the Corcoran College of Art + Design, where he taught in the history of architecture, interior design, and the evolution of the American historic house.  From 1997 through 2004, James Abbott served as Curator of Decorative Arts for The Baltimore Museum of Art.  Mr. Abbott focused on expanding the institution’s holdings of late 19th and 20th century decorative arts.  In 2000, he curated Power, Politics & Style: Art for the Presidents, a BMA exhibition that explored how American presidents – from George Washington to Bill Clinton – utilized fine and decorative arts to translate and/or promote a political ideology, image, or legacy.   

Before arriving in Baltimore, Abbott served as Curator of Collections and Coordinator of Education for Boscobel Restoration, Inc., a restored Federal-era mansion in the Hudson Valley.  At Boscobel, he introduced changing exhibitions and special programs focusing on the field of American period decorative arts.  Mr. Abbott served six years as Assistant Curator for the five properties administered by Historic Hudson Valley – formerly Sleepy Hollow Restorations.  While at H.H.V., he formulated a changing exhibitions program for both Tarrytown and Manhattan sites, as well as researched and implemented a reinterpretation of the interiors of Washington Irving's Sunnyside in Tarrytown, New York.   

Mr. Abbott's publications include the following exhibition catalogs: Visions of Washington Irving:  Selections from the Collections of Historic Hudson Valley (co-author, 1991); Classical to 19th-Century America: The Influence of Berry Tracy on the Historical Interior (1994); and A Frenchman in Camelot: The Decoration of the Kennedy White House by Stéphane Boudin (1995).  Mr. Abbott co-wrote with Elaine Rice a further exploration of the Kennedy White House décor, entitled Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration, which was published by Van Nostrand Reinhold in 1998.  In 2006, he completed a well-received history of the international design firm Jansen (1880-1989), entitled "JANSEN," and published by Acanthus Press, LLC.  This was followed by a companion volume, "JANSEN Furniture," published in spring 2007. 

Mr. Abbott lectures on a variety of topics, including American architecture and design, Presidential history, the changing décor of the White House, and New York and Maryland furniture.

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