Passing of Founding Harn Museum of Art Director
Budd Harris Bishop




Director's Statement

October 27, 2016

With great sadness, profound admiration and deepest gratitude, all of us at the University of Florida’s Harn Museum of Art mark the passing of the museum’s founding director, Budd Harris Bishop.

Mr. Bishop died Sunday, Oct. 23 in Livingston, Tennessee, and is survived by his wife of 48 years, Julia Crowder Bishop. Having built a highly successful career and a national reputation as an outstanding museum director, first at the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then at the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Bishop was recruited to the University of Florida in 1987 and given the mission to establish an art museum for the university.

In 1990 he presided over the opening of the university’s Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art and continued its direction through December 1998. During his tenure, he recruited a staff of outstanding museum professionals, established a collection of fine works of art representing diverse cultures and historical periods, developed exemplary exhibitions and educational programs, and won the support of many generous donors and friends for the young museum.

Mr. Bishop led the museum to achieve accreditation from the American Association of Museums (now the American Alliance of Museums) in 1997 and represented the museum in the Association of Art Museum Directors, in which he played a prominent role. Always supporting him in all of these endeavors was Julia, whose many contributions to the success of the Harn we also acknowledge with warm and sincere thanks. Museum friends and donors Carol and Steve Shey express the deep love and respect with which our community remembers Budd Bishop: “As a consummate educator, he encouraged the use of art and art history to open the minds and understanding of visitors and patrons to the museum. Personally, Budd and Julia were our treasured friends and companions. Both mentored our art acquisition experience and enriched our many shared adventures together.”

When Mr. Bishop retired in 1998, he became an exemplary director emeritus, always available to give sage advice and provide assistance whenever requested to do so by subsequent directors. He continued to be a generous supporter and ardent cheerleader for the Harn. An artist by training, Mr. Bishop finally had time to return to painting and was rewarded with a number of successful exhibitions of his work. From their home in Livingston, Tennessee, he and Julia Bishop have been active in the artistic life of their community and state while remaining engaged with the larger art world. They have indulged their passion for travel and the exploration of the history and art of other regions and countries. Their travels frequently brought them back to Gainesville to see their many friends here and to follow the work of the museum to which they had dedicated their time and talents for more than a decade.

Budd Harris Bishop will be sorely missed by his friends at the Harn Museum of Art and the University of Florida, in Gainesville and among art museum professionals, artists, collectors and art lovers across the country and around the world. Kha Le-Huu, the architect who worked with Mr. Bishop to design the museum says it well: “Nothing stood between him and the rest of the world. He made people think more, see more, feel more. To quote Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet, “He is a letter to everyone. You open it. It says, Live.”


- Rebecca M. Nagy, Harn Museum of Art Director


From the Media and Friends:

Obituary for Budd Harris Bishop’s released by “The Gainesville Sun” on Oct. 27, 2016.

Article released by "The Gainesville Sun" on Oct. 28, 2016

Statement from friends and Harn supporters, Steve and Carol Shey

Statement from friend and Harn supporter, Kha Le-Huu

image head credits: (Left) Budd Bishop with Harn Museum architect Kha Le Huu. (Right) Budd Bishop speaking at the groundbreaking of the Harn in 1988.