Fels, Thomas Weston

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Thomas Weston Fels (AC 1967) is an art historian, curator and writer specializing in American culture, photography and art. Born in Baltimore, MD in 1946, Fels attended The Putney School in Vermont before enrolling at Amherst College. He was part of a group of Amherst College alumni and others who established and lived on a communal farm in Montague, Massachusetts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He attended the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, earning his MA in 1984. Since 2005, Fels' research and writing has focused on the era of the 1960s, including the founding of the Famous Long Ago archives at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Fels resides in southern Vermont, and is active in arts programming locally and beyond.

Thomas Weston Fels has worked as consultant and curator to a number of museums, including the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. In 1986 he was named a Chester Dale Fellow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in 1998-1999, he was a Fletcher Jones Foundation Fellow of the Huntington Library in California. Among the numerous exhibitions he has organized are presentations of the work of the photographers Eadweard Muybridge, and A. J. Russell. His exhibition Carleton Watkins: Western Landscape and the Classical Vision was presented at the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1990. Fire and Ice: Treasures from the Photograph Collection of Frederic Church at Olana, was shown at the Dahesh Museum, in New York, and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Its companion volume, published by Cornell University Press in 2002, was nominated for numerous awards. Fels is the author of many other catalogs and articles, including O Say Can You See: American Photographs 1839-1939 (MIT Press and the Berkshire Museum, 1989), Watkins to Weston: 101 Years of California Photography, 1849-1950 (Roberts Rinehart Publishers and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1992), Sotheby's Guide to Photographs (H. Holt, 1998), and Farm Friends (RSI Press, 2008). He has given public lectures at the Boston Athenaeum, the Addison Gallery, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others.

See Appendix A for a list of Fels' exhibitions, projects, and publications.

From the guide to the Thomas Weston Fels (AC 1967) Papers, 1972-2008, 1983-2004, (Amherst College Archives and Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Thomas Weston Fels (AC 1967) Papers, 1972-2008, 1983-2004 Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Blake Slonecker Oral History Collection MS 795., 2008 Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Famous Long Ago archive corporateBody
associatedWith Muybridge, Eadweard, 1830-1904 person
associatedWith Slonecker, Blake, 1981- person
associatedWith Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute corporateBody
associatedWith Watkins, Carleton E., 1829-1916 person
associatedWith Williams College Museum of Art corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Bennington (Vt.)
Art and photography
Art historians
Art museum curators
Communal living
Nineteen sixties



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