Juliana R. Force
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Juliana R. Force
Juliana R. Force
Juliana Force.jpg
Force in 1940
Julianna Reiser

(1876-12-25)December 25, 1876
DiedAugust 28, 1948(1948-08-28) (aged 71)
OccupationMuseum administrator

Juliana R. Force (December 25, 1876 – August 28, 1948) was an American art museum administrator and director.

Early life and education

Force was born Julianna Reiser in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on December 25, 1876.[1] She became known as "Juliana".[2] She was a twin and had seven other siblings besides her twin sister.[3] Force's last name was spelled Reiser;[1] she later changed the spelling to Rieser.[1][4] Her father was a grocer[5] and a hatter. [3] The Rieser family moved to Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1886.[6] As a child Force attended a Christian boarding school for girls.[6] For a short time in 1908 Force taught at a secretarial business school in Manhattan, downtown New York City.[5] At the age of 35 Force married Willard Force, a dentist, then becoming known as "Juliana Rieser Force" or "Juliana Reiser Force" or "Juliana R. Force", which is sometimes shortened to "Juliana Force".[4][6]


Force's first job was as the personal secretary of socialite Helen Hay (wife of Payne Whitney).[2] At the age of 38 in 1914 she became the private secretary for Helen Hay's sister-in-law, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a great-granddaughter of "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt and eldest surviving daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt II. Whitney, an art sculptress and art collector, had inherited a Vanderbilt fortune.[6] Whitney gave as Force's first duty an assignment to help organize art exhibitions at the Colony Club, an exclusive conservative social club for wealthy socialite women in New York City. Here Force showed off Whitney's art and a different kind of new unusual art by creative artists of a group called The Eight. Whitney was making a statement that all kinds of art, including different styles of art from new artists, should be represented to the public.[7] Whitney was interested in displaying her collection of work as well as other art from modernist artists, especially living Americans.[6]

Whitney assigned Force in 1929 to contact the Metropolitan Museum of Art to prepare a plan for a gift of Whitney's collection. Whitney's art collection gift was to be displayed in a new wing, partly financed by her. The museum turned down the gift. Whitney then displayed her work in her own studios and galleries, that were under her name. Force managed these art enterprises and then in 1930 became director of the new Whitney Museum of American Art that developed from these art studio and gallery enterprises. Force was not trained as an art historian. She hired Lloyd Goodrich, an art historian, to be curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art, best known throughout the United States for displaying new kinds and unusual styles of modern art from living artists. Force's passion for new styles of art and her organizational traits made her an administrative director of the nationally known art museum notable for twentieth and twenty-first century art.[6]

Folk art

Force initiated the first display of American folk art in a gallery in the United States, the "Early American Art" collection.[8][9] On February 9, 1924 she began a presentation of folk art in a Whitney gallery that she administered, intending to bring folk art attractiveness closer to the level of contemporary art.[10] Because of her passion for folk art, this initial display led to the first official public exhibition of folk art in a public showing presentation.[9]

Although her interactions with artists at the Whitney Studio Club inspired her to personally collect modern art,[11] her collections of nineteenth-century and older folk art and decorative arts were larger and more significant. Her Eighth Street apartment was decorated in a Victorian style, contrary to contemporary tastes, and her home at Barley Sheaf Farm in Doylestown was filled with her folk art collection.[12] Primarily acquired from rural antique dealers, her collection included portraits by early American limners, theorem paintings on velvet, and eclectic objects like cigar store Indians and toys.[13]

Later life

Force became chair of the American Art Research Council[14] in 1942. The United States government did a national tour show of German art in 1946 of war booty.[6] Force shortly thereafter undertook a course of action to return the art to its rightful owner.[6]

The Whitney Museum of American Art directed by Force did art shows between 1946 and 1948 on Albert Pinkham Ryder, Robert Feke and Winslow Homer to promote public awareness of these artists.[6]


Force died in New York City on August 28, 1948,[4] and buried at the Doylestown Cemetery in Pennsylvania.[1] The museum held a memorial exhibition in her honor in 1949.[6]

Personal life

Juliana Reiser married Willard Force in 1911. Her husband died in 1928, and they had no children.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d James 1971, p. 646.
  2. ^ a b "Juliana Rieser Force". www.britannica.com. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  3. ^ a b c James 1971, p. 645.
  4. ^ a b c Read & Witlieb 1992, p. 162.
  5. ^ a b Goldsmith 2011, p. 334.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Dictionary of Art Historians". Art Department. Duke University. 2012. Retrieved 2014.
  7. ^ Robinson, Roxana (1990). "A Museum for the brand-new". The New York Times Company. The New York Times newspaper. Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ Indych-López 2009, p. 119 "The first public exhibition of American folk art was "Early American Art" held in February 1924 at Juliana Force's Whitney Studio Club, with objects selected by Henry Schnakenburg. It included naïve engravings, velvet paintings, portraits, cigar store Indians, a ship's figurehead, brass bootjack, and pewter serving bowls".
  9. ^ a b Wertkin 2013, p. 342 "Her endorsement of the field led to the first public exhibition of folk art in the United States.".
  10. ^ Berman 1990, p. 201 "Early American Art, which opened February 9, 1924, was the first exhibition of folk art held in America. Naïve engravings, paintings on velvet, portraits by untutored artists, a cigar store Indian, a ship's figurehead, a brass bootjack, and pewter serving bowls were put before the public as authentic works of art and vigorous evidence of a creative impulse in which Americans ought to take pride".
  11. ^ Pollock, Lindsay (2007). The Girl with the Gallery: Edith Gregor Halpert and the Making of the Modern Art Market. New York: PublicAffairs. p. 130.
  12. ^ Berman, Avis (1990). Rebels on Eighth Street: Juliana Force and the Whitney Museum of American Art. New York: Antheneum. pp. 145-147, 304-307.
  13. ^ Berman, Avis (1990). Rebels on Eighth Street: Juliana Force and the Whitney Museum of American Art. New York: Antheneum. pp. 145-147.
  14. ^ "A Finding Aid to the American Art Research Council records, 1935-1956". www.aaa.si.edu. Retrieved .


External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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