Democracy’s Medici: The Federal Reserve and the Art of Collecting is a profile of the central bank seen from the perspective of the author’s unorthodox art-historical career as founding Director of the Fine Arts Program of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
This is an insider’s view by an art historian about the Federal Reserve culture, larger-than-life personalities, and the fine arts function set against the broader backdrop, both of the Fed’s banking and regulatory mission, and the economic, political, and social context.
During her 31-year tenure, Goley organized over 110 exhibitions on a range of subjects from New York Graffiti artists to the first U.S. exhibit of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Adding a diplomatic mission to her portfolio, beginning in 1988, Goley worked with central banks and museums in Austria, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and The Netherlands to bring exhibits to the Federal Reserve.
Scholarly contributions included the exhibitions: The Hague School and Its American Legacy, The Paintings of Eduard J. Steichen, AustrianBiedermeier, and Polish Constructivism, among others. Two exhibitions resulted in foreign decorations from The Netherlands and Luxembourg.
In 2006 Goley organized The Face of Contemporary Art in China, the first of its kind in Washington, DC, for the Federal Reserve Board. She was twice knighted, in 1982 by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands and in 1988 by the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. With little guidance, she built a remarkable art collection where there was none. J. Carter Brown, Director of the National Gallery of Art, wrote of the Fed’s program, "It is a model for others in our field to see someone take a challenge and make so much of it."
Mary Anne Goley was the founding director of the Fine Arts Program of the Federal Reserve Board (1975–2006). She led a fifteen-member advisory panel and liaisoned with Federal Reserve board members and the thirty-six system-wide bank presidents and their Directors advising on Board art policy. Organizing over 110 exhibitions (many catalogue essays were authored by Goley), the strategy at the Federal Reserve complemented that of local museums as well as made contributions to the field. Beginning in 1988 Goley worked with central banks and museums in Austria, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. Scholarly contributions have included the exhibitions: The Hague School and Its American Legacy, Gerald Murphy, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, The Paintings of Eduard J. Steichen, Samuel Halpert, Austrian Biedermeier, Polish Constructivism, and The Influence of Velasquez on Modern Painting, The American Experience, among others. Two exhibitions resulted in foreign decorations from The Netherlands and Luxembourg. In 2006 she organized The Face of Contemporary Art in China and traveled an exhibition of the Board’s collection to the European Central Bank.
List of Figures
Preface— The Federal Reserve as a Paradigm of Virtue
Chapter One: The Arts and the Central Bank, the Beginning
Chapter Two: The First 1200 Days, Gaining Traction
Chapter Three: New Chairman Paul A. Volcker and Induction into the Fed Family
Chapter Four: Volcker Reanointed
Chapter Five: A Master Builder, Alan Greenspan
Chapter Six: A Big Anniversary, 20 for XX
Chapter Seven: What the Millennium Wrought
About the Author
With a connoisseur’s acumen, a diplomat’s finesse, and a juggler’s dexterity, Mary Anne Goley spent three decades assembling an art collection and organizing exhibitions at the Federal Reserve Board. In this fascinating account of her singular career, we meet the world’s top bankers, European royalty, and art-world characters as colorful as the Fed’s Frankenthaler painting.
Mary Anne Goley is a remarkable woman with a career to match. In Democracy's Medici she offers an insightful analysis of her leadership of the Federal Reserve Board's Fine Arts Program from 1975 to 2006. It is a must for those with interests in the politics of arts administration, collecting, and curation.