Today, I read in the NY Times, the obituary of Joseph V. Noble, a former director of the Museum of the City of New York who earlier (1956-1970) was an administrator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, died Saturday September 29th in West Orange, N.J. He was 87.
The New York Times obituary by Alison J. Peterson continued “While Mr. Noble exposed forged pieces of art, he also openly created some of his own. Through his research of Egyptian and Greek ceramic material, he discovered the secrets of the techniques used in making the ancient art. He made a hobby out of creating replicas on a kiln at his home in Maplewood. He later published a book on his research, “The Techniques of Painted Attic Pottery.””
When he arrived at the Museum of the City of New York, it had been primarily concerned with New York history. Mr. Noble worked to make his exhibitions more contemporary and accessible. This photo to the right is from the era of his Museum directorship.
In a 1972 interview, he said: “I feel we should keep one foot in the past. The past is only prologue, but unless you know what the prologue is, you can’t really know the present.”
Friends of sculpture know Mr. Noble as a supporter of the sculptor. Connecting with many of them thru the National Sculpture Society, and getting them commissions by introductions to those developers working in the city.
To collectors of Medallic Art, we know him from his association as artistic director of the Society of Medallists. The twice-annual subscription based contemporary art medal group begun by Medallic Art Company in the 1940s. He was active selecting artists, thems and then working with artists to get a nice product produced. This association lasted thru the late 1990s after which the new owners of Medallic Art Company changed emphasis.
I first meet Mr. Noble at a NY City Hall Ceremony in March of 1979 During the 75th Anniversary of the opening of the NYC Subway. The Museum of the City of New York has the silver spade shovel which was used at the 1900 ceremony, and Mr. Noble had brought the shovel to participate in a re-enactment of the groundbreaking ceremony. Although surrounded by politicians, the shovel never left his hand. I got to photograph him at the event.
I later got to enjoy many other meetings with him thru attendance at events of the National Sculpture Society, the American Numismatic Society and the American Medallic Sculpture Associationn and FIDEM.
He was always friendly with advise for further research and encouraging of ongoing projects.