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Cornelia Bentley Sage Quinton

Cornelia Bentley Sage Quinton. Photograph from The Buffalo Sunday News, December 1, 1919. Scanned image courtesy of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Digital Assets Collection and Archives. 

Cornelia Bentley Sage Quinton

December 11, 2014

In 1910, Cornelia Bentley Sage Quinton became the first female director of a major art museum in the United States. Hired at the Albright Art Gallery in May 1905 to serve as assistant secretary to Charles Kurtz, Sage Quinton can be remembered most for the pivotal role she played in the museum’s history as a groundbreaking organizer of art exhibitions, promoter of arts education in the City of Buffalo, and an international figure in her own right for her flair for the theatrical, artistic, and spectacular.

During her tenure as director, she organized numerous pioneering exhibitions in order to sustain public interest for the museum’s Fine Art Collection, which was of neither sufficient size nor distinction at that time. Her greatest achievement was an exhibition in September 1916 of more than 800 works of sculpture representing 168 American sculptors. The Exhibition of Contemporary American Sculpture, held under the auspices of The National Sculpture Society, was the greatest of its kind ever presented up to that time, and it served to make the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and all of Buffalo aware of the possibilities for the future of the Albright Art Gallery.

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