Archaeologist and art historian of ancient theater. Bieber was the daughter of Jacob Heinrich Bieber, a factory owner, and Valli Bukofzer (Bieber). In 1899 she was privately tutored in Berlin, receiving her Abitur. In Berlin she studied under Hermann Diels (1848-1922), Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1848-1931), and Reinhard Kekulé von Stradonitz. In 1904 she moved to Bonn to study under Georg Loeschke as well as Paul Clemen and Franz Bücheler (1837-1908). Bieber graduated from the University of Bonn in 1907, writing her dissertation under Loeschcke. One of the first female members of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (German Archaeological Insitute, or DAI) in 1913, she was the first to receive their prestigious travel fellowships in 1909. From then until 1914 she lived in Rome, where she met the German scholarly community working on classical art, such as Walther Amelung and Gerhart Rodenwaldt, Wilhelm Dörpfeld and the British discoverer of Minoan Crete, Arthur J. Evans. She returned to Germany to teach Loeschke's classes in Berlin during World War I, privately because her gender prohibited an official appointment, between 1916-1918; her students at this time included Dora and Erwin Panofsky. In 1919 she moved to the University of Giessen where she was the second woman professor in that country. She was made a full professor in 1931. The Nazi dismissal of Jews from academic positions forced her to leave Germany in July, 1933. She emigrated first to England and an unsatisfactory year at Oxford. The following year she emigrated to the United States and taught at Barnard College, Columbia University, with William Bell Dinsmoor and Meyer Schapiro in the Department of Fine Arts. In New York, other female scholars, such as Gisela M. A. Richter, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mary Hamilton Swindler, and archaeologist Hetty Goldman (1881-1972) recommended assisted her. She was Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, 1935-1948. While at Columbia, she published The History of the Greek and Roman Theater (1939) and Laocoon, the Influence of the Group since Its Rediscovery (1942). She became an American citizen in 1940. Bieber retired from Columbia in 1948, continuing to lecture at Barnard, the New School for Social Research, and Princeton University. Her post-retirement years included publications such as Alexander the Great in Greek and Roman Art (1964), The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age (1955), and Ancient Copies (1977). She was awarded the Gold Medal for distinguished service by the Archaeological Institute of American in 1974, at age ninety-five. At the time of her death she was working on a book of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman dress, which remained unfinished. She died at her (adopted) daughter's house in Connecticut in 1976. Through her writing and her reading selections of other art historians, Bieber helped disseminate the many of the more abstract art historical ideas of her German colleagues. Her German Readings in the History and Theory of Fine Arts (1946) kept primary source texts alive to modern art history students. Her own work incorporated the methods of Guido Kaschnitz von Weinberg and others. Her original research on Greek theater and sculpture, particularly the problem of Roman copies of Greek originals, remains a legacy. Her attempt to settle on a definitive interpretation of the Laocoön was countered in 2000 by Richard Brilliant.
- Margarete Bieber papers, Tulane University Special Collections. https://archives.tulane.edu/repositories/3/resources/985, LaRC-410.