Philip Conway Beam

Philip Conway Beam, who joined the Bowdoin faculty in 1936 and retired in 1982 as the Henry Johnson Professor of Art and Archaeology, died on December 25, 2005, in Lewiston, Maine.

Born on October 7, 1910, in Dallas, TX, he received his bachelor of arts, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy degrees from Harvard University, as well as the Certificate of the Courtauld Institute from the University of London. He was an assistant to the director of the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art in Kansas City, MO, and a member of the faculty at the Kansas City Art Institute before he joined the Bowdoin faculty in 1936 as curator of the art collections and instructor in the Department of Art. In 1939, he became the director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and, in 1949, professor of art. He also served for many years as chair of the Department of Art. He taught at Wesleyan University of Vermont in the summers of 1967 and 1969. He was chair of the Maine State Art Commission in 1951-52, was a member of the Portland Art Museum’s Board of Governors from 1945 to 1950, and for some years was a trustee of the Ogunquit Art Museum. In 1976, he was the recipient of the Bowdoin Alumni Council’s Alumni Award for Faculty and Staff in recognition of his outstanding “service and devotion to Bowdoin.” He taught “Art: An American Collection” at the Elderhostel programs on the Bowdoin campus during the summers of 1983 and 1984 and for many years was an official at track meets held at the College. He was the author of Winslow Homer at Prout’s Neck, published in 1966, upon which a television documentary, “Winslow Homer of Maine,” was based. He was also the author of The Language of Art (1958), The Art of John Sloan (1962), Winslow Homer in Maine (1968), Winslow Homer’s Magazine Engravings (1979), Winslow Homer’s Watercolors (1983), and the section of American art in the Visual Dictionary of Art. He served as an editorial consultant for The World of Winslow Homer and The World of John Singleton Copley, published by Time-Life Art Library. In 1976, he flew to Japan to lecture on American art in connection with a Tokyo exhibition that included more than 50 works by Homer from Bowdoin’s Walker Art Museum. After his retirement in 1982, he remained at the College through the summer of 1983 as honorary curator of the Museum’s Homer collection. In Brunswick, he served as chair of the Boy Scouts Court of Honor, as chair of the Brunswick Area United Fund, and as a member of the vestry and as treasurer of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. He is survived by his wife, Frances Merriman Beam, whom he married in 1939; a son, Christopher Beam of Lewiston, ME; a daughter, Rebecca Beam of Exeter, NH; and three grandsons.