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Paul Mellon

Mellon, Paul, 1907–99, American philanthropist and art collector, b. Pittsburgh. The son of Andrew W. Mellon, he attended Yale (B.A., 1929) and Clare College, Cambridge (A.B., 1931). He worked briefly at Mellon Bank but left (1936) business to devote himself to American cultural interests. Over six decades he donated roughly $1 billion to national institutions and projects. He oversaw the construction of the National Gallery of Art, conceived by his late father as a gift to the American people, and in 1941 presented it to the nation together with his father's art collection. Serving on its board for more than 40 years, he was its president (1938–39, 1963–79) and chairman (1979–85). Mellon commissioned I. M. Pei to design its East Building (1978) and over the years gave the museum more than 900 works. He also created the Yale Center for Studies in British Art (1972) and its sister museum (1977) and chose Louis Kahn as its architect. Mellon, who established the Old Dominion (1941) and Bollingen (1942) foundations, also supported various universities, libraries, environmental causes, and arts, education, and public health organizations.

See his Reflections in a Silver Spoon: A Memoir (1992).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Art museums: Biographies

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