The National Gallery of Art has chosen an MIT Professor to organize and lead there a community of scholars.
He is Henry Armand Millon, 52, an architectural historian, who yesterday was named professor-in-charge of the gallery's center for advanced study in the visual arts.
The center-whose first scholars will move into the new east building in the fall of 1980-will help to correct an old imbalance in the art scene here.
Washington, though hugely rich in art historical materials, is not so rich in top-notch art historians. Despite its grand supply of works of art, books, galleries, and archives, the city has not previously drawn the patient scholars needed to fully exploit them.
The city's curators are busy with shows and acquisitions. Its colleges and universities are not of the first rank. "Our art historical materials are grossly underutilized," Said J. Carter Brown, the gallery's director. "They are like a sleeping princess, waiting for somebody to awaken them with a kiss."
The center's scholars, who will perhaps number 20, will have no duties but research. "They are not house pets of the gallery," said Brown. "They'll come here with no strings."
Millon said he hopes to recruit "not just art historians, but anthropologists, archeologists, pure historians, and critics from the U.S. and abroad-the best minds we can find."
In 20 years the Gallery's library will have 300,000 volumes. Its photographic archive will eventually contain some 3 million prints. The center's scholars also will have access to the Library of Congress, the National Archives, to Washington's museums-and, of course, to one another.
"What is nifty," said Brown, "is that Hank Millon has run an art center before." Millon, who spent last year at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, worked for three years as director of the American Academy in Rome.
Born in Altoona, Pa., Millon served in the Navy during World War II, then went to Tulane where he took three bachelor's degrees-in architecture, physics, and English literature. He also holds a master's degree in architecture and a Ph.D. in art history from Harvard. While in Rome he studied Michelangelo's designs for St. Peter's, and in the process of his researches came across an architectural model constructed by the master. Millon spent a year writing architectural criticism for the Boston Globe and helped organize "The New City: Architecture and Urban Renewal," an exhibition mounted in 1967 at the Museum of Modern Art.