Americanist art historian; first associate director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Abbott was born to Arthur Abbott and Flora Parkman (Abbott). After attending Dexter High School, Abbott graduated from Bowdin College with a bachelor's degree in science and attended graduate school at Harvard University in physics. At Harvard he met Alfred H. Barr, Jr., who would become the first director of the Museum of Modern Art. Barr and Abbott spent time in Paris studying art.