Alice Van Vechten Brown

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Alice Van Vechten Brown
An older white woman, her grey hair in an updo, wearing a high-collared lace blouse or dress
Alice Van Vechten Brown, from a 1915 publication
BornJune 7, 1862
DiedOctober 16, 1949
Occupation(s)College professor, art historian

Alice Van Vechten Brown (born June 7, 1862) was an art educator and historian, notable for the creation of the first courses in museum training (1911) and modern art (1927) in the United States.[1][2] The modern art course was taught by Alfred H. Barr, Jr., who would later claim the departmental headings he developed for the Museum of Modern Art were merely "the subject headings of the Wellesley course".[2]

The daughter of a minister on faculty at Dartmouth College, she initially pursued a career as an artist, studying with the Art Students League of New York with Abbot H. Thayer, until an illness in the family forced her return home.[3] She exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in Paris.[4] After her return, she took a job at Wellesley College running the Farnsworth Museum and heading up the art department. Charged with redesigning Wellesley's art history program, she moved the program from a study of photos and textbooks to a more active format involving laboratory methods.[1] In the Wellesley program students learned artistic techniques to better understand the history of art.[5]

With William Rankin, she was the author of A Short History of Italian Painting (1914).[6]

She died October 16, 1949, in Middletown, New Jersey.[1]


  1. ^ a b c John F. Ohles (1978). Biographical Dictionary of American Educators. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 181–. ISBN 978-0-313-04012-2.
  2. ^ a b Sybil Gordon Kantor (August 2003). Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art. MIT Press. pp. 91–. ISBN 978-0-262-61196-1.
  3. ^ Brent Wilson; Harlan Hoffa; Pennsylvania State University. School of Visual Arts; National Art Education Association (1987). The history of art education: proceedings from the Penn State Conference. National Art Education Association. ISBN 9780937652381.
  4. ^ "Brown, Alice van Vechten". Oxford Art Online. 31 October 2011. doi:10.1093/benz/9780199773787.article.B00027260. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  5. ^ James Turner (4 May 2014). Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities. Princeton University Press. pp. 318–. ISBN 978-1-4008-5015-0.
  6. ^ Alice Van Vechten Brown; William Rankin (1914). A short history of Italian painting. J.M. Dent & Sons, ltd.