Letter from the Director: Winter 2017

oil painting depicting harbor scene, showing full sky over docked ships and people interacting on land


This letter is reprinted from the Winter 2017 issue of the Members’ Magazine.

All of us here were saddened by the passing in October of Edgar Munhall, who served as the museum’s chief curator for more than thirty-five years. Edgar’s legacy endures in his writings, the exhibitions he curated, and through the careers of the many art historians he mentored, and we strive to follow his example as we continue the work of the institution he championed.

I am pleased to welcome Joseph Shatoff as our new Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer, taking over for Robert Goldsmith, who retired in July after twenty-seven years of dedicated service. Joe comes to us from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he managed the launch of the Met Breuer, helping to oversee the transformation of the landmark Madison Avenue building. His expertise and experience will be a tremendous asset as we embark on the upgrade and expansion of this institution’s facilities.

As many of you know, Trustee Stephen A. Schwarzman offered to match, dollar for dollar, the amount raised for the Annual Fund during the months of November and December. Mr. Schwarzman’s generosity inspired others to donate in an unprecedented way, and by the end of December, our members and friends had contributed an extraordinary $323,350—significantly more than we have ever brought in during a two-month period. I am profoundly grateful to all of you who donated and especially to Mr. Schwarzman for his incredible show of support.

We recently opened Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time, which pivots around two of the collection’s greatest works, J. M. W. Turner’s monumental depictions of the harbors of Dieppe and Cologne. The show presents these with a group of oil paintings, watercolors, sketchbooks, and prints produced by the British artist during an intense exploration of the juncture of water, sky, and maritime activity.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Center for the History of Collecting. Since its founding in 2007, the Center has organized acclaimed symposia, published books and awarded book prizes to acknowledge exceptional contributions to the field, granted numerous fellowships, and recorded the oral histories of more than a dozen prominent collectors. I hope you will join us in the months ahead for special events planned in celebration of the Center’s first decade, including a symposium on sculpture (May 19–20). You will find more details on our Web site.

Thank you to our donors from the past fiscal year, many of whom have supported us for decades. None of the programs we present—including exhibitions, loans, and educational endeavors—would be possible without your financial help. This past fall, we announced the selection of Selldorf Architects to design new and renovated spaces to support such activities. As we look toward the future of this great institution, we eagerly anticipate sharing our ideas and plans with you, and we thank you wholeheartedly for your continued generosity.

J. M. W. Turner (British, 1775–1851), Harbor of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile, dated 1826. Oil on canvas, 68 3/8 x 88 3/4 in. (173.7 x 225.4 cm). The Frick Collection, New York. Photo: Michael Bodycomb

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