The Evans-Tibbs Archive of African American Art Explored in National Gallery of Art Library Installation

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  • December 14, 2018

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Thurlow Evans Tibbs Jr., National Gallery of Art Library, The Evans-Tibbs Collection, Gift of Thurlow Evans Tibbs Jr.

Washington, DC—In the Library: The Evans-Tibbs Archive of African American Artshowcases the life and work of Thurlow Evans Tibbs Jr., an accomplished art appraiser, broker, collector, and dealer, as well as the founder and director of his eponymous art gallery in Washington, DC. Tibbs is best known for his donation to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, now an important part of the Gallery's holdings by African American artists. This installation features correspondence, exhibition pamphlets, gallery records, photographs, and ephemera that illustrate the history of the Tibbs family, the Evans-Tibbs Archive, and African American art. It is on view from January 21 to April 12, 2019, in the East Building Study Center, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The installation is organized by the National Gallery of Art and curated by Anna C. Tomlinson, assistant special collections librarian; Vada D. Komistra, library technician; and Anne H. Simmons, reference librarian, all at the National Gallery of Art.

About Thurlow Evans Tibbs Jr. (1952–1997) and the Evans-Tibbs Collection

A third-generation Washingtonian, Thurlow Evans Tibbs Jr. (1952–1997) spent his formative years in the home of his beloved grandmother, opera singer and art collector Madame Lillian Evanti (1890–1967). After completing his education in 1976, Tibbs returned to Washington, resumed residency at 1910 Vermont Avenue NW, and transformed this family home into an informal salon and gallery. The Evans-Tibbs Collection held its first in-house exhibition in 1978; over the next two decades, Tibbs organized exhibitions featuring both nationally renowned and local African American artists. As an advocate for African American art in Washington, Tibbs worked to create opportunities and fortify a network for a growing community of artists and collectors. In addition to collecting art, Tibbs amassed approximately 45 linear feet of material documenting the history of African American art and artists from 1810 to 1997.

Thurlow Evans Tibbs Jr. bequeathed his archive and 33 works of art from the Evans-Tibbs Collection to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1996. The gift consists of works across media by African American artists including Aaron Douglas, Palmer Hayden, Hughie Lee-Smith, Betye Saar, Charles Sebree, Henry O. Tanner, Alma Thomas, and Hale Woodruff, among others. In 2015 the Evans-Tibbs Archive arrived in its entirety at the National Gallery of Art Library.

Library and Rare Books Collection

The National Gallery of Art Library holds more than 400,000 books and periodicals, including more than 15,000 volumes in the rare books collection, with an emphasis on Western art from the Middle Ages to the present, particularly the Italian, Dutch, Flemish, French, German, Spanish, British, and American schools. The collection features an extraordinary range of material, from manuscripts and early printed books to annotated catalogs and price lists, from landmark publications such as Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists to serials produced by Dada artists. Special emphasis is given to the areas of collection catalogs, biographies of artists, manuals on technique and materials, architecture, color theory, the early history of photography, festival books, travel literature, emblem books, and artists' books.

The National Gallery of Art Library was founded in 1941, the year the Gallery opened to the public. In 1979 the completion of a new seven-story facility in the Gallery's East Building and the establishment of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) allowed the library to broaden the purpose and scope of its collection. A major national art research center, the library serves Gallery staff, CASVA members, visiting scholars, and researchers.

National Gallery of Art Library installations are available without appointment from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

To access the library, which is open Monday through Friday, visitors must make an appointment. Call (202) 842-6511 or email for more information.

National Gallery of Art
About National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. With the exception of the atrium and library, the galleries in the East Building will remain closed until late fall 2016 for Master Facilities Plan and renovations. For information call (202) 737-4215 or visit the Gallery's Web site at Follow the Gallery on Facebook at, Twitter at, and Instagram at

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