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John Richard Craft Papers

A glimpse into the world of art in South Carolina and beyond--its creators, directors, patrons, and dealers--is provided in this collection of three hundred and ten manuscripts, 1910-1992, of John Richard Craft (b. 1909), who came to Columbia as the first director of the Columbia Museum of Art (1950-1977). Letters, notes, programs, news clippings, and miscellaneous papers document this native Pennsylvanian's contributions to the life and culture of his adopted city and state. Correspondents cite Craft's leadership in developing what Antiques editor and publisher Wendell Garrett described in a letter to Augustus T. Graydon, 27 June 1986, as a "first-class museum." J. Mitchell Reames, in a letter of 17 November 1985, refers to Craft's "multiple contributions to our educational and cultural growth here in my beloved State." "At times," he continues, "nothing short of a conspiracy of `enlightened ones' is sufficient to nudge us from our provincialism and arrogance. We are grateful to you, Sir, for coming into our midst and becoming one of us in order to enrich our lives."

The collection contains, in addition to its core of information on the Columbia Museum of Art, documentation of Craft's early career and European domicile as well as his later commitments and interests. One file of material reflects his service on the South Carolina Title IV State Advisory Council (1976-1980). In a letter of 17 February 1987 to Scott Sanders, executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, Craft reveals that "long ago in the 60's" he had headed "that group which sought through our governors (Hollings, Russell, and McNair) to have the proper [federal arts-support] agency established here in South Carolina. Then, at the urging of Bob McNair, I was at the Rose Garden signing of the legislation establishing the National Endowment of the Arts by President Johnson." His interest in the development of the South Carolina State Museum is shown in a letter from Guy F. Lipscomb, 18 May 1979--"We are continuing to press for a state museum, with the site on the Saluda river being selected by the commission over my support for the original plan. We are now in the process of selecting an exhibit designer and architectural planner so that we might come up with a master plan which makes sense."

An exchange of eight letters, 1978-1982, between Craft and Norman Hirschl, of Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York, concerns the local existence in private hands, and their ultimate disposition, of paintings by Pissarro and Renoir. Craft's association with Georgia artist Lamar Dodd is manifested in another set of correspondence, 1982-1984. Other correspondents include Elizabeth Boatwright Coker, James B. Edwards, Catharine Rembert, John G. Sproat, John Waddill, and world-renowned archeologist Oscar Broneer (1894-1992).

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