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Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 9618

Perrot, Paul N., interviewee

Oral History Interview with Paul Perrot, 2004

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Creator: Perrot, Paul N., interviewee
Title: Oral History Interview with Paul Perrot
Dates: 2004
Quantity: 3 audiotapes (Reference copies).
Collection: Record Unit 9618
Language of Materials: English
Summary:

These interviews of Paul Perrot cover his youth in France, early career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and years at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Historical Note

Paul N. Perrot (1926- ) served as the Assistant Secretary for Museums at the Smithsonian from 1972 to 1983. Perrot was on the staff of the Corning Glass Museum from 1952 to 1972, serving as director from 1960 to 1972. After leaving the Smithsonian, Perrot served as director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from 1984 to 1991 and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art from 1991 to 1994. Perrot was very active in the international museum community, especially the International Council of Museums.

These interviews of Paul Perrot cover his youth in war-torn France, immigration to the United States, early career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, years at the Corning Museum of Glass, and his tenure as Assistant Secretary for Museum Programs at the Smithsonian.

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Introduction

The Oral History Program is part of the Smithsonian Institution Archives. The purpose of the program is to conduct interviews with current and retired members of the Smithsonian staff who have made significant contributions, administrative and scholarly, to the Institution. The project's goal is to supplement the published record and manuscript collections in the Archives, focusing on the history of the Institution and contributions to the increase and diffusion of knowledge made by its scholars.

The Paul N. Perrot interviews were conducted as part of the Smithsonian Institution Archives Oral History Program because of his role as Assistant Secretary for Museums at the Smithsonian from 1972 to 1983.

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Descriptive Entry

The Paul N. Perrot Interviews were conducted during five sessions in 2004 and 2009-2011 by Smithsonian Archives Historian Pamela M. Henson. This collection consists of five interview sessions, totaling approximately 14.5 hours of recordings, 314 pages of transcript, and occupies 0.5 cubic feet of shelf space. There are two generations of recordings for the first session: original audiotapes and reference audiocassette tapes. Sessions 2 to 5 were recorded in digital audio, with digital .wav and reference .mp3 audio files. In total, this collection is comprised of 5 original 7" reel-to-reel audiotapes, 3 reference copy audio cassette tapes, 9 digital .wav files, and 9 digital .mp3 files. The original audiotapes and .wav files are reserved in preservation storage. Box 1 contains transcripts of the interviews and cassette and digital copies of the original recordings.

Additional documentation pertaining to Paul N. Perrot can be found in the Records of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Museums and the Paul N. Perrot Papers in Smithsonian Institution Archives.

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This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.

Name

Subject

Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9618, Oral History Interview with Paul Perrot

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Container List

Box 1

Transcripts of Interviews

Interview 1: 22 July 2004

Box 1 of 1
The first interview of Perrot discusses his childhood in war-torn France; immigration to New York City after the war; early jobs and education in New York; first museum position at the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; appointment as curator and then assistant director at the Corning Glass Museum; and involvement in museum professional societies, c. 1926-1970.
Transcript, pp. 1-44 of audiotape recording, 2.5 hours.

Interview 2: 15 June 2009

Box 1 of 1
Perrot traces his arrival at the Smithsonian in 1972, responsibilities to carry out the National Museum Act, planning for the Museum Support Center, and supervision of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, c. 1972-1980s.
Transcript 1-99, of audiotape recording, 2.5 hours.

Interview 3: 4 September 2009

Box 1 of 1
Discusses his work on the Bicentennial of the American Revolution, especially the renovation of the Arts and Industries Building; early planning for the Quadrangle complex; initiation of psychological studies of exhibits and visitors in the Office of Museum Programs based on work of Chandler Screven; critique of exhibits during his tenure and the work of the Office of Exhibits Central; the Festival of American Folklife in 1976; c. 1970s-1980s.
Transcript, pp. 1-54, of audiotape recording, 2.5 hours.

Interview 4: 9 September 2009

Box 1 of 1
Perrot continues his discussions of planning for and transferring collections to the Museum Suport Center; development of the Conservation Analytical Laboratory; planning, design and fundraising for the Quadrangle complex with the Museum of African Art, Sackler Gallery, International Center, and additional office space; c. 1980s.
Transcript, pp. 1-78, of audio recording, 4.0 hours.

Interview 5: 5 May 2011

Box 1 of 1
Discusses the 1979-1980 Smithsonian delegation to China and other international activities; reminiscences of colleagues including William N. Richards, Jane R. Glaser, Peter G. Powers, and S. Dillon Ripley; Phillip Stern, Marvin Sadik; and concludes with his advice to young museum professionals; c. 1979-1980s.
Transcript, pp. 1-66, of audio recording, 3.0 hours.

Audio Recordings of Interviews

Interview 1: 22 July 2004

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 2.5 hours
Original Masters: 5 7" reel-to-reel analog audiotapes
Reference Copies: 3 audiotape cassettes

Interview 2: 15 June 2009

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 2.5 hours
Original Masters: 2 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 2 digital .mp3 files

Interview 3: 4 September 2009

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 2.5 hours
Original Masters: 2 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 2 digital .mp3 files

Interview 4: 9 September 2009

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 4.0 hours
Original Masters: 3 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 3 digital .mp3 files

Interview 5: 5 May 2011

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 3.0 hours
Original Masters: 2 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 2 digital .mp3 files