August 15, 1900 - July 17, 1991
Albert Eide Parr, an oceanographer and ichthyologist, was director of the American Museum of Natural History from 1942 to 1959. Parr was born in Bergen, Norway, went to sea during school and college vacations, studied zoology, and was appointed assistant in the Norway Bureau of Fisheries while an undergraduate. In 1926, Parr came to the United States, worked at the New York Aquarium, and in 1927 was invited by Harry Payne Bingham to serve as naturalist on an expedition to the Caribbean. The fishes collected, including over 100 new species, were eventually housed at Yale University, and the Bingham Oceanographic Laboratory was established with Parr as curator. More expeditions followed, offering Parr the opportunity to study the Sargasso Sea and chart the origins of the Gulf Stream. In 1931, Parr began a career at Yale, eventually becoming professor of oceanography, research associate at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and director of the Peabody Museum. During his term as director of the AMNH, Parr faced the need to retrench during wartime and contract the museum's research geographically. He focused on ecology and education, emphasizing the interrelationship of human beings and natural forces, and defining the museum's mission as attracting and maintaining the interest of the public. Parr was the first director of the AMNH to resign in order to pursue research, becoming senior scientist after fifteen years in administration. He founded and served as the managing editor of the journal published by the Sears Foundation for Marine Research, continued his work on classifying fishes and studying ocean currents, and lectured for the American Association of Museums and UNESCO. Parr died in 1991.
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