Bruce H. Evans '61 - In Memory
deceased May 14, 2013 (view alumni profile-log in required)

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Bruce Evans, son of E. Arnold Evans ’35, had a dream career in the humanities, serving as the director of two art museums, Dayton (Ohio) Art Institute and Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C. He had two sons with Margo Frey, Smith ’62, and a 50-year marriage duly certified by the four Amherst classmates who attended the wedding.

Bruce majored in art history and then earned an M.A. from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. He served on the board of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), including a term as president. While he was a board member, AAMD provided moral and financial support to a fellow museum director embattled over an exhibit of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe. Bruce served on many American Association of Museums reaccreditation panels. He particularly enjoyed working on the acquisition by the Dayton Art Institute of the Ponderosa Co.’s contemporary art collection. He played a key role in the creation of the Mint Museum of Craft & Design. Bruce was a populist, starting, for instance, the “Experiencenter,” a participatory gallery. He had a great sense of fun, personal warmth, love of music, enthusiasm for art and strength of character.

In 2010 troubling symptoms were diagnosed as Lewy Body Dementia, but Bruce kept up his good spirits to the end. Margo tells us: “As prescribed medicines lost their effectiveness, Bruce did not like what he saw down the road. To gain some control over his future, he chose not to replace his pacemaker battery. The end was quite peaceful—similar to the way he felt when his pulse went down to 30 in 1997 and he had his first pacemaker installed. It provided several months for visits with close friends and family and calls and notes. He never once wavered in his decision throughout this period.”

Jan Beyea ’61 

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Bruce Evans, the son of E. Arnold Evans, '35, had a dream career in the humanities, serving as the director of two art museums, one in Dayton, Ohio (Dayton Art Institute), and the other in Charlotte, North Carolina (Mint Museum).  However, his path was not straight.  At Amherst, after experimenting with the social pleasures of college, he ran afoul of the College's own retaliatory experimentation, namely expelling students for a year, without prior warning or counseling, for "underachieving."  Well-intentioned, poorly implemented, this short-lived underachiever program alienated Bruce from the fairest college but, as he conceded, the story had a happy ending.  During his year off, aptitude tests he fortuitously took directed him to the arts, away from a planned career in law that family tradition deemed proper.  When he returned to Amherst, the inspiring teaching of professors Morgan and Trapp brought him to a new home in the art history department.  His forced year away from Amherst had more than career benefits.  It put him in temporal sync with one, Margo Frey, Smith '62, whom he met in his senior year, wooed with his guitar, and soon married.  He spent the next fifty years with her.  They bore two sons, the first while Bruce was getting his MA in art history from NYU, the second during his first job at the Dayton Art Institute (curator), prior to his becoming director.  During this 50-year span, two grandchildren appeared, and it was Margo Evans who practiced law, thereby making sure an Evans followed the family tradition.

Bruce chaired numerous committees, serving on the Board of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), including a term as president.  While he was a board member, AAMD provided moral and financial support to a fellow museum director embattled over an exhibit of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe.  Bruce served on many art museum re-accreditation panels of the American Association of Museums.  He particularly enjoyed working on the acquisition by the Dayton Art Institute of the Ponderosa Company's collection of contemporary art.  He played a key role in the creation of the Mint Museum of Craft & Design in Charlotte in 1999.  Bruce was a populist when it came to museum philosophy, starting for instance the "Experiencenter," a participatory gallery.  Bruce was a man comfortable with himself.  He had a great sense of fun, personal warmth, love of music, enthusiasm for art, and strength of character.

In 2010, troubling symptoms were confirmed as Lewy Body Dementia, but Bruce kept up his good spirits to the end, Margo tells us:  "As prescribed medicine lost its effectiveness, Bruce did not like what he saw down the road.  He was therefore thrilled to realize that he could gain some control over his future when it was time to replace his pacemaker battery.  He chose not to.  The end was quite peaceful - similar to the way he felt when his pulse went down to 30 in 1997 and he had his first pacemaker installed.  It provided several months for visits with close friends and family and calls and notes.   He never once wavered in his decision throughout this period."


Jan Beyea, '61

 

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