History of the Harris Gallery

Harris Gallery 2011

The Harris Gallery came into existence with the addition of the Moody Wing of the library in the early 1970s. After Hurricane Ike in late 2008, restoration of the library included new lighting and flooring in the Harris Gallery. This gallery is utilized to exhibit thematic collections from amongst the Museum’s thousands of carefully preserved and stored paintings, illustrations, and photography.

John Woods Harris III (1893 – 1999) became a trustee of the Rosenberg Library in 1934 and served on the board for nearly four decades. As board president during the planning and construction of the building’s Moody Memorial Wing, Harris was one of the primary fundraisers for the monumental project. In 1971, the Harris Gallery was dedicated in honor of the Harris family for their generous gifts to the library.

John W. Harris III was the son of John Woods Harris, Jr. and Minnie Knox (Hutchings) Harris. After serving as a naval pilot during World War I, he graduated from the University of Virginia in 1920 with a degree in law. Harris returned to Galveston and began his career as an attorney.

Harris Gallery 2010

Mr. Harris was on the board of directors of the Hutchings-Sealy National Bank from 1930 until his retirement in 1974. He also served as director of the Sealy and Smith Foundation for the John Sealy Hospital. Harris was on the board of the Galveston Orphans Home for many years and was a trustee of the Galveston Independent School District.

He worked with many local organizations, including the International Oleander Society, the William Temple Foundation, the First Church of Christian Science, the Galveston Garden Club, Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Boys Club of Galveston, United Way, Boy Scouts of America, and the Galveston Historical Foundation. Mr. Harris was a member of the American Judicature Society, Sons of the Republic of Texas, the Texas Navy, the American Legion, Delta Kappa Epsilon, the Galveston Artillery Club, and the Galveston Yacht Club.

Harris Gallery 2008

In 1973, he and his wife, Eugenia Davis Harris, formed Galveston Foundation, Inc., an organization dedicated to the beautification of the city, in an endeavor to make Galveston “the Garden of the Gulf.” Galveston Foundation has donated funds for the planting of flowers and shrubs along Broadway and has made numerous grants for the landscaping of schools and parks. The dolphin sculpture on the Seawall and the restoration of the Rosenberg Fountain on 23rd Street are also gifts of the Galveston Foundation.

In 1968, John W. Harris was honored as a Community Leader of America, and in 1976, the Galveston City Council proclaimed October 22nd, 23rd, and 24th as John Harris Days in the City of Galveston. Harris was named Man of the Year by the Galveston Boys Club in 1980 and was named the Rabbi Henry Cohen Humanitarian of the Year in 1981. He died in Galveston in 1999 at the age of 105 years.