Flashback Friday: Eric Catmur and the Founding of the Dixon

Anniversaries present a good opportunity to thank the people who have made the Dixon the world-class museum and public garden it is today.  I think it’s safe to say that the Dixon would not be in existence without the guidance and support of our founding Board of Trustees Chairman, Eric A. Catmur.  Mr. Catmur and Mr. Dixon had known each other for many years, long before Mr. and Mrs. Dixon arrived in Memphis in the early 1940s.  Mr. Catmur’s father and Mr. Dixon were interned together as civilian prisoners of war in Germany during World War I.    

After both Margaret and Hugo Dixon passed away in 1974, Eric Catmur, as Chair of the Hugo Dixon Trust, was tasked with turning the Dixons’ private residence, garden, and art collection into an operating gallery and gardens “open to the public for their enjoyment and pleasure.”  This became a full-time job, as Mr. Catmur oversaw the transitioning of the Dixons’ home into a museum, the hiring of a director and staff, starting additions to the museum, and securing accreditation from the American Association of Museums.   

The Dixon Gallery and Gardens opened to the public in January of 1976 with Eric Catmur as its first Chairman of the Board of Trustees.  He remained in that position for the next eleven years.  During that time, he negotiated the addition of the Warda Stevens Stout Collection of Eighteenth Century German Porcelain, the acquisition of several important paintings, including works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot, and Camille Pissarro, and he launched the Dixon on the path of success it continues to follow. 

Posted by Chantal Drake at 2:24 PM
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