The Federal Reserve and the Art of Collecting
Mary Anne Goley
Democracy’s Medici: The Federal Reserve and the Art of Collecting is a profile of the central bank seen from the perspective of the author’s unorthodox art-historical career as founding Director of the Fine Arts Program of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
This is an insider’s view by an art historian about the Federal Reserve culture, larger-than-life personalities, and the fine arts function set against the broader backdrop, both of the Fed’s banking and regulatory mission, and the economic, political, and social context.
During her 31-year tenure, Goley organized over 110 exhibitions on a range of subjects from New York Graffiti artists to the first U.S. exhibit of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Adding a diplomatic mission to her portfolio, beginning in 1988, Goley worked with central banks and museums in Austria, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and The Netherlands to bring exhibits to the Federal Reserve.
Scholarly contributions included the exhibitions: The Hague School and Its American Legacy, The Paintings of Eduard J. Steichen, AustrianBiedermeier, and Polish Constructivism, among others. Two exhibitions resulted in foreign decorations from The Netherlands and Luxembourg.
In 2006 Goley organized The Face of Contemporary Art in China, the first of its kind in Washington, DC, for the Federal Reserve Board. She was twice knighted, in 1982 by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands and in 1988 by the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. With little guidance, she built a remarkable art collection where there was none. J. Carter Brown, Director of the National Gallery of Art, wrote of the Fed’s program, "It is a model for others in our field to see someone take a challenge and make so much of it."