A passionate student of the arts, Maurice Berger passed away on March 23 as a result of COVID-19, after spending a lifetime championing understanding and tolerance.

Born to an impoverished New York family, Berger rose to become a highly respected academic, art historian and curator, and notably used his platform to challenge racism and bigotry, which he credited to being influenced by the African-American and Hispanic children he grew up with in New York.

He earned his undergraduate degree from Hunter College, and later studied for a doctorate in art history and critical theory at the City University of New York.

Berger’s 1999 memoir White Lies turned a critical eye to race relations in America, and in 2017, he curated a series of photographs for The New York Times examining the history of race in the United States.

In a statement, New York’s Jewish Museum paid tribute to his legacy: “For more than 25 years, Berger was a valued colleague and friend of the Museum who passionately demonstrated the highest standards of scholarship and intellectual integrity. His work on race-relations, American and Jewish culture, and his belief in making exhibitions and the written word meaningful and accessible for everyone, inspired, challenged, and encouraged so many in the curatorial profession—and beyond.”

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