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Freeman, Margaret B.

    Full Name: Freeman, Margaret B.

    Other Names:

    • Margaret Freeman

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 1899

    Date Died: 1980

    Place Born: West Orange, Essex, NJ, USA

    Place Died: New York, NY, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Medieval (European)

    Career(s): curators


    Medievalist and curator, Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Freeman was the daughter of Orville Ezra Freeman (1863-1909), a grocer, and Sarah Adelaide Sigler (Freeman). She graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A, continuing for a master’s degree at Columbia University. Freeman continued study at the College de France, Sorbonne, summer school. After returning, she worked as a research assistant at the Newark Museum, 1924-1925, and as an instructor at the Dana Hall School, a girls’ boarding school in Wellesley, MA, between 1925-1927. She joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art first as a lecturer in the department of Egyptian and Medieval art in 1928. When the Cloisters opened in 1938, Freeman moved to the medieval-concentration museum, under James Rorimer, developing the medieval gardens and organized the music programs held there. She rose to assistant curator in 1940 and, when Rorimer was called to military duty in 1943, became associate curator, acting as director of the Cloisters until his return. Her interest in medieval gardens resulted in her book Herbs for the Mediaeval Household, published in 1943. After Rorimer’s appointment as director of the Met in 1955, Freeman became curator of the Cloisters. She wrote two books on Cloisters textiles, the St. Martin Embroideries, 1968, and on the Museum’s famous Unicorn Tapestries in 1976. She retired in 1965 as curator emeritus.

    Selected Bibliography

    Herbs for the Mediaeval Household: For Cooking, Healing, and Diverse Uses. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1943; Les Belles Heures du Duc de Berry. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1959; The St. Martin Embroideries. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1968; The Unicorn Tapestries. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976.


    private communication Lee Murrah (Freeman family genealogy website), July 2008; [correction of middle name from ‘Bars’ to ‘Beam’ [obituary:] personal correspondence, Hope Pinkerton, February 2012, “Margaret B. Freeman, 80, Dies, Curator Emeritus of the Cloisters.” New York Times May 28, 1980, p. D21.


    "Freeman, Margaret B.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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