Harvard professor and director of the Walters Art Gallery and Cleveland Museum of Art. Bergman attended Rutgers University undergraduate, graduating in 1966. His master's degree, 1969 and Ph.D., 1972, were both awarded from Princeton University. He received Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships. His dissertation, written under Kurt Weitzmann was on the Salerno Ivories. In 1971 he taught as an assistant at Princeton, joining Harvard in 1976 as associate professor of fine arts. He published a revised version of his thesis in 1980. In 1981, Bergman was recruited to be director of the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, despite, as he recalled, no experience in museums or fundraising. He also held an appointment at Johns Hopkins University during these same years. His success at the Walters led to his appointment in 1993 at the Cleveland Museum of Art. In Cleveland, he was adjunct professor of art at Case Western Reserve University. As director, he oversaw the shows "Pharaohs: Treasures of Egyptian Art from the Louvre," "Faberge in America," and "Vatican Treasures: Early Christian, Renaissance and Baroque Art from the Papal Collections" the last of which he co-curated. Under his tenure, the Museum acquired Annibale Carracci's painting "Boy Drinking," a 13th-century Pisan altar cross, Constantinian gold jewelry, a pair of fourth-century Maya ceramic figures, Renaissance armor by Pompeo della Cesa and an Andy Warhol, "Marilyn x 100." The Cleveland Museum had been slow to collect modern art, particularly under his famous predecessor, Sherman E. Lee. Bergman was diagnosed with a blood disorder in 1999 and died at University Hospitals in Cleveland after a two-week illness. He was succeeded at Cleveland by Katharine Caecelia Lee. The American Association of Museums established The Robert P. Bergman Scholarship Fund to support museum professionals in the Cleveland area. In 2001 the Centro di cultura e storia amalfitana conference was convened in his memory. His students at Harvard included Glenn D. Lowry.
Bergman, Robert P.
Robert Paul Bergman
[dissertation:] The Salerno Ivories. Princeton University, 1972; The Salerno Ivories: Ars Sacra from Medieval Amalfi. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980; "Byzantine Influence and Private Patronage in a Newly Discovered Medieval Church in Amalfi: S. Michele Arcangelo in Pogerola." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 50, no. 4 (December 1991): 421-444; "The Frescoes of Santissima Annunciata in Minuto (Amalfi)." Dumbarton Oaks Papers 41 (1987): 71-83.
[obituaries:] Honan, William. "Robert P. Bergman, 53, Head of Cleveland Museum of Art." New York Times May 7, 1999, p. 25; Able, E. H. "In Memoriam: Robert P. Bergman." Museum News 78 no. 4 (July/August 1999): 7-8.