Richard Paul Wunder, 79, an art historian who held curatorial positions at the Cooper Union Museum in New York City and the Smithsonian in Washington, died Sunday at his home in La Jolla of an apparent heart attack.
A native of Ardmore, Pa., Wunder developed an interest in art while traveling through Europe with his mother. His art studies at Harvard were interrupted by service in the army during World War II and later the Korean War. In between wars, he returned to Harvard, earning his bachelor's and master's degrees. He completed work for his doctorate in 1955.
He served as curator of drawings and prints at the Cooper Union Museum from 1955 to 1964, when he left to join the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 1969 and 1970, he served as director of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design in New York. In the 1970s, he taught at Middlebury College and later became president of appraisals for Christie, Manson & Woods International in New York City. He moved to La Jolla after retiring in 1990.