Published: January 11, 2022
PEABODY, MASS.— Irma Lampert, born June 25, 1926, passed away at home on December 13, 2021, after a long illness. She was raised in Brookline, Mass., attended Brookline Schools and Wheaton College. Irma met her husband David at Lawrence Academy. They dated throughout his time at Dartmouth College and his service in the US Navy and were married in 1945. Following the Second World War they purchased Mount Coolidge Farm in Lincoln, N.H., where they raised animals and sold maple syrup. The couple then moved to Meredith Farm in Topsfield, Mass. Together they raised a herd of International Grand Champion Ayrshire Cattle on land that has been farmed since the late Seventeenth Century. Irma was renowned as a gracious host to the visiting Ayrshire enthusiasts who came from around the world for the occasional herd auctions. The farm produced many Grand Champion heifers and bulls, as well as world records in milk production. Irma took great pride in their agricultural accomplishments and remained at Meredith Farm for over 60 years. She spent her final years making new friends at Brooksby Village in Peabody, Mass.
Irma devoted much of her life to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she served as a museum teacher, and a gallery instructor from 1963 until her recent health challenges slowed her down. Prior to her commitment as a gallery instructor she also served on the MFA Ladies Committee as a reception and development resource. In the museum galleries Irma shared the art-on-view with school visitors of all ages, introducing them to the collections of ancient Asia, the Americas and Europe. Her affection for both the works of art and the visiting students was contagious among her colleagues and helped forge a long-standing community of camaraderie among the gallery instructors to this day.
Irma’s particular interest was for the arts of the Americas, especially the folk art tradition of the Nineteenth Century, which celebrated the skills of under-appreciated artists. She studied the MFA collection of Maxim Karolik assiduously and fused her enthusiasm for that with her other passion as a dealer of American folk art. Much of her free time away from the MFA was spent at outdoor antique shows, fairs, markets and gatherings of fellow collectors, connoisseurs and dealers.
Irma loved antiques from a young age, and she had a good eye for quality and uniqueness, even before she knew much about a piece. In the mid-1970s she and a friend decided to try their hand at the business of buying and selling and participated in their first trade show with items they had purchased. On average they made a $5 to $10 profit per item. They named the business Wenham Cross Antiques after the streets each lived on in Topsfield, and their first store location was in a group shop in North Hampton, N.H. Eventually they started setting up at shows throughout New England and occasionally ventured as far as New York and Pennsylvania. It was a great time to be in the antiques business and they prospered. Irma’s daughter Emily joined the business and the two operated shops on Newbury Street in Boston and in Essex, Mass. Together they frequently traveled to England in search of merchandise for the shops. Emily currently continues to develop the Wenham Cross legacy.
Irma was a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Irma leaves five children, Fay Shutzer, Betsy Dowling, Emily Lampert, David Lampert Jr and Margaret Lampert, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Contributions in Irma’s memory would be welcomed at the Education Department for Gallery Instructors, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
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