Bradford Kelleher, 87; steered growth of Met museum merchandising

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Bradford Kelleher, 87, whose marketing ideas for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first full-blown gift shop became a model for nonprofit institutions around the world, died Oct. 31 in Riverhead, N.Y., the museum said. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Under his supervision, the museum’s business grew from “little more than a rack of postcards” to include a large selection of decorative art objects based on the museum’s collection. Today, the merchandising business nets the museum more than $1 million a year, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

As a nonprofit institution, the Met is not required to pay taxes on the sale of merchandise that has educational and cultural significance.

A native of Worchester, Mass., Kelleher served in Army intelligence during World War II and graduated from Yale University in 1948 with an emphasis in Far Eastern Studies, the New York Times reported.


He was hired by the museum in 1949. During his tenure, he helped expand the museum’s mail-order catalog, satellite sales shops around the world and its publication of scholarly and general-interest books on art.

Kelleher was named the museum’s publisher in 1972 and vice president in 1978. He retired in 1986 but served as a consultant until his death.