The Estate of Katharine Lee Reid | July 13-15, 2023
Katharine Lee Reid was no stranger to the world of arts and antiques. Katharine’s introduction to the world of art came at a young age. Her father, Sherman Lee, held positions in the Cleveland Museum of Art as Curator of Asian Art and later Director from 1958 to 1983. Nearly 20 years later, Katharine would take the same position of Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art from 2000 to 2005.
Katharine’s passion for art and antiques led her to amass a curated collection throughout her life. Among the collection is an assortment of Arts and Crafts movement decorative objects, lighting, and furniture, which showcase Katharine’s experienced eye. Included are tiles from William Morris and William de Morgen, as well as a 64 piece Wedgwood pearlware dinner service in the Mared pattern.
Katharine began her career in 1966 when she received a Ford Foundation grant to study museum curatorship at the Toledo Museum of Art. Prior to this, she graduated summa cum laude from Vassar College, earned a master’s degree in Art History from Harvard, and received a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie in the Sorbonne. Following her time at the Toledo Museum of Art, Katharine would become the Director of the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago and the first Curator of Collections at the university’s new Smart Museum of Art.
These appointments would be just the beginning of a long and impressive career in the museum industry. In 1982, Katharine would become assistant director and then deputy director at the Art Institute of Chicago until 1991. Moving the same year, she was appointed the Director of the Virginia Museum of Art in Richmond. While Director, Katharine guided the museum through a severe recession and led outreach programs to the city’s African American community.
On March 13, 2000 Katharine would return to her “first” museum, when she was appointed the Sixth Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. As Director, Reid acquired many important works of Art including paintings by Salvador Dali and Frank Stella. She would also launch an 8 year, $320 million dollar expansion and renovation, designed by architect Rafael Vinoly, that would transform the museum’s galleries and central atrium.
Following her retirement and up until her death, Katharine would continue to be active in the art world. Among numerous positions on the boards of museums, Reid was given a presidential appointment to the United States Department of State’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee in 2007. For her many contributions to the arts she was awarded honorary degrees by Knox College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as being honored with Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France’s Minister of Culture in 2007.
Brunk Auctions is pleased to bring an impressive collection of objects from the Estate of Katharine Lee Reid, Chapel Hill, North Carolina to sale in our upcoming Premier & Emporium Auction | July 13-15, 2023.