Defining Art

Defining Art

Lunder Collection of American art raises Colby to pinnacle of college art museums

By Bob Keyes


At the other end of the spectrum is Inness’s Spirit of Autumn, painted in 1891. The piece illustrates the artist’s palette and his ability to recreate the wonder of nature through his brushwork and vision.

John La Farge’s painting Agathon to Erosanthe, from 1861, is one of just two the artist made showing flower wreaths.
Wilmerding said one of the values of a gift of the magnitude of the Lunder Collection is its impact on the academic program. “It instantly gives a kind of critical mass for the teaching of a whole field,” he said.

Peter Lunder descended from shoemakers, and his family has strong ties to central Maine. His uncle is Harold Alfond of Dexter Shoe Co. Lunder joined the company in 1958, two years after graduating from Colby, and later became its president.

Spirit of Autumn
George Inness, Spirit of Autumn, 1891, oil on canvas, 30 x 45"
Colby College Museum of Art, The Lunder Collection

The Lunders have maintained ties to Colby for many years. He is a life overseer and Paula Lunder serves as a life trustee. The Lunders have supported the museum with the naming gift for the Lunder Wing, which opened in 1999, and by endowing the museum’s curator of American art position. The family name also adorns the admissions building, and they have quietly helped in many other areas. They also have shared many pieces from their collection with Colby over the years as long-term loans.

Their philanthropy at Colby has been extensive already,” Adams said. “This takes it to a much higher level.”
Their interest in the arts extends beyond Colby. Peter Lunder is vice chair of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Board, and the Lunder Foundation has supported several endeavors of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Broun said.

Adams said Colby has been talking with the Lunders “for some time” about the possible gift. Toward the end of 2006, the conversations became serious. Their primary concern was that the work be shown and shared with the public. Their expectation is that the collection will benefit Colby’s teaching mission and the undergraduate community at the College, he said.

Adams said he believes the gift will make Colby a destination for art lovers and will enhance Maine’s reputation among cultural tourists.

“The ability of the College and its desire to share this collection with the region has always been strong. But now we have much more to share,” Adams said.

“A gift such as this provides important buttressing of the relationship the College has with the community, and it represents the kind of cultural resource we can be for central Maine.”

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