Winifred R. Kennedy, registrar at Walters

November 04, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Winifred Rogan Kennedy, who as Walters Art Gallery registrar inventoried the bequest of museum founders William T. and Henry Walters, died Saturday of Alzheimer's disease at her Roland Park Place residence. She was 92.

"She was the first museum professional to be hired in 1931," said Leopoldine Prosperetti, the museum's registrar since 1972. "Her main activity was to develop the catalog and she devised a numbering system that is still in use today. She set high standards. . . ."

But Miss Kennedy had a lighter side. "Another thing she loved was parades," Mrs. Prosperetti said. "If she heard a parade coming she'd leave her work and -- to the nearest window to have a peak."

William R. Johnston, assistant director of the Walters, said, "She was the driving force in getting the collection cataloged, and her system was unique for the time. An Anglophile, she was a terribly strong and self-disciplined person who was also awfully sweet."

"Miss Kennedy's exacting work, though largely inconspicuous and unrecognized except by scholars and researchers, was essential for the efficient operation of the Gallery," said Edward S. King, the museum's first director.

After working at Harvard University's Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Mass., Miss Kennedy was hired by the Walters to JTC make a complete inventory of the more than 20,000 works of art bequeathed by the brothers. The museum finally opened to the public in the autumn of 1934.

Miss Kennedy employed and enhanced the cataloging method used by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The works of arts were divided into classes such as sculpture, painting, and metalwork and then divided again geographically and chronologically. All information regarding an individual piece of art -- provenance, bibliography, condition, picture and location in the museum -- was placed on a catalog card.

Miss Kennedy described her method in a 1979 article, "A Classification System for Art Objects," published by the American Association of Museums.

Miss Kennedy, who lived on Roland Avenue, retired in 1972 but continued to work as an archivist and museum consultant for several years.

Born in Boston, she was a 1920 graduate of Girls' Latin School there and earned her bachelor's degree in 1924 from Simmons College. She was a longtime member of the Women's Hamilton Street Club.

Private services were set for today in Boston. A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Nov. 18 at the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Assumption, Cathedral and Mulberry streets, Baltimore.

Survivors include two sisters, Mary M. Kennedy and Frances V. Kennedy, both of Bedford, Mass.; and two nieces.

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