In Memoriam: Art History Professor Emerita H. Barbara Weinberg

September 1, 2023

The Graduate Center community mourns the death of an esteemed scholar, curator, teacher, and mentor.

H. Barbara Weinberg at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
H. Barbara Weinberg

The Graduate Center community mourns the passing of Art History Professor Emerita H. Barbara Weinberg, a noted scholar of American paintings who became a curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She died on August 25. She was age 81.

She joined the faculty at Queens College in the early 1970s and received a joint appointment at the Graduate Center soon after. Upon her retirement in the 1990s, she was recognized as a professor emerita.

“Barbara was a superb teacher and mentored a generation of us at the Graduate School,” Bailey Van Hook (Ph.D. ’88, Art History), professor emerita of art history at Virginia Tech, wrote in an email. “Her exacting scholarship and rigorous editing (we all have stories) were a model for her students. Those qualities, paired with an infectious laugh and a genuine warmth, will be remembered by all of us.”

In 1990, following a distinguished career at CUNY, Weinberg joined The Metropolitan Museum as curator of American paintings and sculpture.

“Over more than two decades at the Museum, she engaged and educated legions of visitors through groundbreaking exhibitions, dynamic gallery installations, incisive publications, and immensely popular lectures, while mentoring the next generation of scholars,” wrote The Metropolitan Museum American Wing staff in an email. “Her legacy continues to inspire and inform our work today.”

According to The Metropolitan Museum website, Weinberg curated and co-curated several exhibitions at the museum, including American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915 (2010); American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885–1915 (1994); Childe Hassam, American Impressionist (2004); and Americans in Paris, 1860–1900 (2006). She was the Metropolitan’s curator for Winslow Homer (1996; organized by the National Gallery of Art) and Thomas Eakins (2002; organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art). She curated several exhibitions based on the Metropolitan’s collections, including John Singer Sargent Beyond the Portrait Studio (2000); American Impressionists Abroad and At Home (American Federation of Arts, 2001–02); and American Impressionism and Realism: A Landmark Exhibition from the Met (Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, and Art Exhibitions Australia, 2009).

Born in New York City, she graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College/Columbia University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

“Barbara was a dynamic and inspiring teacher who constantly challenged her CUNY students,” recalled Lisa Peters (Ph.D. ’95, Art History), an independent scholar. “Her classes came alive as she posed questions that caused us to think and debate.” She added, “Barbara was a fabulous and engaging speaker. Her scholarship (a model of inquiry) and the mentorship she gave to many of us will live on and her presence in the field will be greatly missed.”

“I had the fortune of being Barbara's M.A. mentee at Queens College, and she was instrumental in persuading me, and supporting me, in pursuing a Ph.D. at the Graduate Center,” wrote Evie Terrono (Ph.D. ’02, Art History), professor of art history at Randolph-Macon College. “She was a critical but also encouraging and nurturing mentor who cared for her students in the classroom and beyond. She shaped me as a researcher and as the teacher I am today.”

Published by the Office of Communications and Marketing