Frank Taylor, 104; led National Museum of American History

From Times Wire Reports

Frank A. Taylor, 104, the founding director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, died of respiratory failure June 14 in a Washington, D.C., hospital.

A native of Washington, Taylor helped launch the museum, which is the permanent home of such popular treasures as the ruby slippers from the film “The Wizard of Oz” and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat.

Taylor was responsible for modernizing exhibits throughout the Smithsonian. He also established a program of research and scholarly publication for the National Museum of History and Technology, the predecessor of the National Museum of American History.

He earned an engineering degree from MIT in 1928 and a law degree from Georgetown University in 1934. During World War II, he served as a captain in the Army in the Philippines.


In 1954, Congress authorized the National Museum of History and Technology (the current name was adopted in 1980). Taylor was assigned to plan the new museum, oversee construction of the building, hire the staff and develop exhibits. In 1958 he was appointed the museum’s first director. It opened in 1964.