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Juniata Commencement Speaker to be Director of Houston's Museum of Fine Arts

(Posted May 10, 2009)

Peter Marzio, a 1965 Juniata graduate, is director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Peter Marzio, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and a graduate of Juniata College, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and deliver the commencement address at Juniata's 131st Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 16 on the Juniata campus.

Marzio will address the graduating class in an academic year that has been momentous for the college. The college will finish the renovation of Founders Hall, the college's original classroom building, in June and hold a grand opening for the building in October. The college also initiated a series of affordability programs this year after the financial crisis affected colleges and universities across the country.

Marzio has led the Houston museum since 1982 and has overseen a period of growth with attendance increasing from 300,000 to 1.6 million and the museum's endowment growing from $5 million to $1.1 billion. The museum's budget increased from $5 million to $52 million and the museum's permanent collection has nearly tripled to 57,000 works of art.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Juniata in 1965. He received a master's degree in 1966 and a doctoral degree in 1969 from the University of Chicago.

At the University of Chicago, Marzio served as research assistant to Professor Daniel J. Boorstin, working on "The Americans: The Democratic Experience," which received the Pulitzer Prize in 1973.

Marzio, a native of Governor's Island in New York City, moved into his museum career in 1969 when he became curator of prints and chair of the Department of Cultural History at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of History and Technology. In 1978, he became director and chief executive officer of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. During his time in Washington, he also taught as an associate professor of art history at the University of Maryland from 1967 to 1977.

He has written extensively about art and history. His most recent book is "A Permanent Legacy: 150 Works from the Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts," published in 1989. He was editor and a contributor to the Smithsonian's Bicentennial book "Nation of Nations" and wrote two acclaimed histories of American drawing and lithography, "Art Crusade" (1776) and The Democratic Art" (1979). He also wrote "Rube Goldberg: His Life and Work" in 1973.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.