President William D. Adams has announced a promised gift of one of the most important collections of American art ever to be donated to a liberal arts college. The gift comprises more than 500 objects, with 464 works by American masters including John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, George Inness, William Merritt Chase, Winslow Homer, Paul Manship, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Jenny Holzer. A crucial area of the collection is 201 prints by James McNeill Whistler, the largest single collection of art by Whistler to be given to an American academic museum. The gift, which is the largest in the history of the College, comes from Peter and Paula Lunder, art collectors and long-time supporters of the College and the Colby College Museum of Art.
President Adams said, "This superb gift will enrich the Colby College Museum of Art in numerous ways, placing it among the nation's best museums for the exhibition and study of American art. In a single stroke, the museum will become one of the world's most important repositories of Whistler prints. Indeed, the students who use the Colby College Museum of Art on a daily basis, not only for art or art history, but as a resource in numerous fields, from history to science, will now have access to a vastly enlarged and more diverse collection of works. We are deeply grateful to the Lunders for this act of enormous generosity."
Colby College Museum of Art Director Sharon Corwin added, "While the Lunder gift comprises largely American art, it includes great diversity within that broad category. The extraordinary concentration of prints by Whistler is especially exciting, since it provides a genealogy for the museum's deep holdings in works by individual American artists of the past century who have explored the medium of printmaking. On behalf of the museum's staff, I offer our deep thanks to Peter and Paula Lunder. Their generosity will ensure a richer experience for students, the larger Colby community, and the public who visit the Colby College Museum."
More than 80 works from the gift, which is valued at more than $100 million, are currently on view in the museum; in summer 2009, as the museum celebrates its 50th anniversary, some 200 works from the Collection will be on view. In 2013, the museum will open a new wing with galleries dedicated to the permanent display of works from the Collection, including the art of James McNeill Whistler.