century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

View all members

William Henry Fox

Director, Brooklyn Museum

Centurion, 1922–1952

Born 10 November 1858 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Died 18 January 1952 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Buried West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

Proposed by Walter H. Crittenden and Ben Foster

Elected 4 November 1922 at age sixty-three

Century Memorial

Fox was born in Philadelphia, and he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He was immersed in the fine arts, and worked in that department of the St. Louis Exposition in 1904 and later in Rome as Secretary-General of the International Exhibition of Art and History.

In 1914 he became Director of the Brooklyn Museum, and he continued at that till 1934, when he retired. He was an exceedingly successful Director, and under him the Museum grew and prospered enormously. He was constantly going to Europe, arranging art exhibits, and securing extraordinary specimens and objects for Brooklyn. One of the things that interested him was the examination of old paintings by X-ray, which frequently turned out to be palimpsests on which older and more astonishing paintings were revealed beneath the top one. He also examined Egyptian mummies in this way without unwrapping them.

In his last years Fox returned to his native Philadelphia to live quietly, surrounded by the mementoes of a long and useful life. Though he was ninety-three years old when he died, he remained to the end actively interested in artistic matters and his beloved Brookyln Museum.

He was a gentle, courtly person—the civilized product of a sophisticated society.

George W. Martin
1953 Century Association Yearbook