Witness to an Ending
Witness to an Ending is an unfinished memoir by Allan McNab, a Scotsman raised in the Highlands, schooled in England, and trained in both the military and the arts. Through a fascinating confluence of determination, talent, chance, and extraordinary vision, McNab found himself deeply involved in the twentieth century’s most cataclysmic events, its technological and scientific discoveries, and its artistic revolutions. Marjorie Kreilick served as a professor for the UW-Madison Art Department from 1953-1991 and specialized in sculpture, with an impressive set of architectural commissions and solo exhibitions during her career. She was married to McNab for nearly a decade, from 1973 until his death in 1982, when he collapsed while delivering the manuscript for Witness to an Ending to his typist.
This primary source is a beautifully written, very personal account, beginning with Allan’s childhood in Beauly, the Scottish highlands and continuing on through his work in the 1930s with famous designers and artists such as Norman Bel Geddes. Also covered are the period during which he founded the Lowe Art Gallery and set in motion its educational programs, and his time as director of administration at the Art Institute of Chicago. McNab retired to Wisconsin for the last fifteen years of his life, where he continued to work as an art appraiser and museum consultant; his memoir gives us a vivid account of both an era that has ended, and an extraordinary man. The text includes sixteen pages of photo reproductions drawn from McNab’s personal collections and other sources.
Narciso Menocal, Professor Emeritus of Art History at UW—Madison, writes, “During his retirement [McNab] served as an independent consultant and worked on his memoirs, crafting his superb text with countless anecdotes about the fascinating people in whose circles he moved. This he has done so naturally and so richly that one does not really read this book, one simply listens to McNab telling his absorbing and compelling story.”