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Lythgoe, Albert M.

Date born:  1868

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Date died: 1934

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Founder of the departments of Egyptian art for both the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  In 1905, while excavating for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Egypt, he met William M. Laffan (q.v.) the collector and friend of the financier and collector J. P. Morgan (1837-1913).  Morgan, chairman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's board of directors, was interested in forming an Egyptian Department similar to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Laffan's approval of Lythgoe convinced Morgan to hire him away from Boston. In 1906 Lythgoe resigned from both his Harvard lectureship and the Boston Museum to become the first curator of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan.  Lythgoe invited his former Harvard student, Herbert E. Winlock (q.v.), to join the staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition in Egypt.  Winlock later rose through the ranks under Lythgoe, from assistant curator of Egyptian art Lythgoe spent the next ten years making extraordinary finds for the Met in Egypt. At the Metropolitan, Lythgoe hired the Oxford scholar Arthur C. Mace (1874-1928), Ambrose Lansing (1891-1959), and Charles Wilkinson (q.v.), who later founded the Metropolitan's Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. in 1907, Lythgoe and his staff excavated the pyramids at Lisht, in 1908 the Oasis of Kharga and in 1910 Luxor (Thebes), the seat of the XI Dynasty. Lythgoe's friendship with millionaire Edward S. Harkness (1874-1940) brought donations from him and Henry Walters (1848-1931), then on the board of the Metropolitan and later founder of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.  Winlock eventually succeeding Lythgoe as curator of Egyptian art when Lythgoe retired in 1929.

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Sources:  Tomkins, Calvin.  Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  2nd. ed.  New York: Henry Holt, 1989, pp. 136-39.

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