- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Stephen Edward Weil, former deputy director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, died Aug. 9 at the Washington Home hospice in Northwest. He was 77.

Mr. Weil served as deputy director of the Hirshhorn from 1974 to 1995. After retirement, he was appointed emeritus senior scholar at the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Museum Studies.

Born in New York City, Mr. Weil frequently visited the area’s numerous museums and art galleries. After attending the Bronx High School of Science, he married his first wife, Rose Reicherson, in 1950.

Mr. Weil received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1949 and a law degree from Columbia University School of Law in 1956.

Mr. Weil is remembered as a smart and funny man with a fast wit, who possessed an extensive knowledge and love of music, literature and politics. He served as an admired mentor in the museum field to many students.

Mr. Weil married his third wife, Wendy Luke, in 1990.

“He was very smart, very thoughtful and very, very funny,” Mrs. Weil said. “He was very respectful of other people and had wonderful eyes for seeing things and learning.”

He had a passion for fine art, good food and good wines. Only last weekend, when Mrs. Weil asked whether there was anything she could do for him, he replied that he would really like a glass of a really good wine and a pork sausage.

“I went out to find a good wine, and brought it back with the sausage,” she recalls. “He finished both with relish and said, ‘All right, I’m ready to go now.’”

Satisfying his passion for philosophy and ethics, Mr. Weil joined the New York law firm of Rosenman, Colin, Kaye, Petschek, Freund and Emil in 1956. He left the firm in 1963 to serve as vice president and general manager of Marlborough-Gerson Gallery in New York until 1967.

Mr. Weil served as administrator of Whitney Museum of American Art in New York from 1967 to 1974.

He completed several academic residencies at Teachers College, Columbia University, Bates College and universities in Australia and Greece. His love for teaching led him to a faculty position at the Museum Management Institute at the University of California at Berkeley.

Mr. Weil was a noted author and leading scholar in the areas of museum ethics and art law. He co-authored “Art Law: Rights and Liabilities of Creators and Collectors,” which won the 1987 Scribes Book Award as the best law book published in 1986.

He wrote six books, and his essays and articles appeared in numerous publications and journals.

In the 1990s, Mr. Weil received the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums’ Katherine Coffey Award for distinguished accomplishment and he was the sixteenth recipient of the American Association of Museums Award for Distinguished Service.

He was extremely proud of his involvement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-based Museum Loan Network, which enabled smaller museums to borrow items from museums with large collections, and consulted with museums around the world, including the Jewish Museum in New York.

His marriages to Rose Reicherson and Elizabeth Carbone ended in divorce.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Weil is survived by three children and four grandchildren.

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