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J. Carter Brown

Director Emeritus
National Gallery of Art

I did not major in history of art as an undergraduate, and that was on purpose, on the advice of a hero of mine, the former Director of the Metropolitan Museum, Francis Henry Taylor, who was just one of the most charismatic people. And, I went to see him and ask his advice about preparing for a museum career. So he said, "Well first of all, don't major in fine arts." I said, "What?" He said, "You'll be doing that for the rest of your life. You'll have to go to graduate school, you'll be deep into it. Get a broad cultural background, so that what you do after that all has meaning." And so, I majored in history and literature, which Harvard offered to a small percentage of the class, and which was a wonderful field. And, I took some art history courses, but very little. I really got my art history aboard later.
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J. Carter Brown

Director Emeritus
National Gallery of Art

Europe, you know, every few feet there is some extraordinary visual or cultural experience. My mentor, Francis Taylor, said, "You've got to go to Europe and wash your eyeballs in the stuff." And it's true. He had this great phrase, he said, "A museum is a gymnasium for the eye. The stuff," he said, "that's in America has been filtered through dealers. It's only what's movable, what's fashionable at the time. In Europe you get things that are painted on the walls and they're not going to move, and you've really got to expose yourself to that." And now, of course, we have this global outlook that's important, because there's Asia to see. No one will understand a Japanese garden until you've walked through one, and you hear the crunch underfoot, and you smell it, and you experience it over time. Now, there's no photograph or any movie that can give you that experience.
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J. Carter Brown

Director Emeritus
National Gallery of Art

J. Carter Brown: I was immensely prepared. I was eleven years in studying after getting out of high school. I had a year in Europe studying with Bernard Berenson, and traveling, and learning German, and going to the Louvre Museum school, and later the Hague Art History Bureau. And, I had both the business school and this very rigorous master's at NYU Institute of Fine Arts, with this Germanic thoroughness, two-and-a-half years with a full-blown thesis, comprehensive exams in the whole history of art, and two language exams. And so, yes - and I'd had this fabulous opportunity growing up of exposure - but I'm interested in the inscription that is carved, apparently, over the lintel, the entrance of the institute founded by Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin: "Fortune smiles on those prepared to receive it." And, you know, the Bermuda Race in yacht racing, my father called it "the great Atlantic lottery," because where the Gulf Stream is, and what the weather is, is so fraught with accidental eventualities. And yet, when we were doing it, Carlton Mitchell won it three years in a row. And so, you know, there must be more to it than just luck.
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J. Carter Brown

Director Emeritus
National Gallery of Art

In France the word for "curator" and for "conservative" is the same word. And, people like to do things the way they always were done. That's where my Harvard Business School training came in. One of the first things I did when I became Director was get rid of the desk that my predecessor had, which was this huge big desk with a high-back chair. And this little rickety chair by the side, for anyone who came to see him would come and sit straight up, sort of like a serf handling his cap. And, I got rid of all that. I got the (I.M.) Pei office to design a totally modernist interior, even when we were still in the West Building, and substituted a round table with five equal chairs that were swivel chairs. What it telegraphed was that we were all there equally to solve the problem, whatever it was, which was somewhere in the middle of the table. And, everybody could contribute and everybody, by the end of it, should buy in. And, this was just a very different management style, but it seemed to work.
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Willie Brown

Former Mayor of San Francisco

I took geometry from my coach in high school. Charles Gregory knew nothing about mathematics. He knew even less about the geometry part of mathematics. And he said up front, "I didn't want to teach this class. They don't have anybody else to teach it. I need the job. I'm your coach, there's not much else I can do for you except to tell you, commit the geometry book to memory." And I did. I got an "A" in geometry, only for having committed the book to memory. Can I solve geometrical problems? Absolutely not. Can I quote Theory 109? Absolutely. But the memory training that Gregory gave me equipped me in my world of law. I can literally cite you, chapter and verse, subject matter that I was required to take as a freshman in law school, almost 40 years ago. Only because of that training that I got in that little school.
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Willie Brown

Former Mayor of San Francisco

If you're going into the trade or the business I'm in, Machiavelli is the bible. And you'd better read it, and you'd better reread it. The wisdom contained in that book, for the nature of the public policy options that I exercise, and the techniques that are employed, and the assessment of your competition, stands you in good stead. I would recommend that to be read over, and over, and over, until death.
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Linda Buck

Nobel Prize in Medicine

So I was getting frustrated because I was doing cellular experiments to try to get insight into the molecular mechanisms. Meanwhile, the field of molecular biology had been growing and taking off, and it was becoming more possible to actually study the molecules themselves, to study genes, encoding the molecules, and by studying the genes, get more insight into the molecules. So I decided that I wanted to learn molecular biology -- learn the techniques of molecular biology -- so I could more directly answer the questions I wanted to address. And for that reason, I went to the laboratory of Richard Axel, who was a molecular biologist at Columbia. I thought this would be much faster to stay there and go to the Axel laboratory than move somewhere else, because I just had to move laterally in the same building. I ended up staying there forever, but that was okay. It was a really good choice.
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