The son of a minister trained at the Princeton Theological Seminary, Alfred Hamilton Barr, Jr., began his studies at Princeton as well. He received his B.A. and M.A. in art and archeology in 1922 and 1923, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1926. He then went on to teach at Vassar, Harvard, and Wellesley before becoming director of the newly established Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1929. He remained at the museum until his retirement in 1967. A collection of Barr's papers is held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Marquis, Alice Goldfarb. Alfred H. Barr, Jr.: Missionary for the modern. Chicago, 1989.
Kantor, Sybil Gordon. Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art. Boston, 2002