Many Gifts Given by Longtime MFA Trustees and Supporters
BOSTON, MA (July 24, 2015)—Before the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), says goodbye to Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director, at the end of July, the Board of Trustees has announced the numerous gifts given under his leadership, including a number of important gifts of art donated in his honor. One of the hallmarks of Rogers’ nearly 21-year tenure has been the Gifts of Art program—which has helped to build relationships with art collectors and donors and strengthen the Museum’s collection. As a result, 88 percent of the 65,000 works of art acquired by the Museum since 1994 have been gifts. Of the approximately 57,000 gifts of art made during Rogers’ tenure, 175 have been donated specifically in Rogers’ honor, including a recent selection from longtime Trustees and other MFA supporters. At Rogers’ final meeting of the Board on June 25, it was announced that Honorary Trustees Ann and Graham Gund had donated the monumental steel sculpture by Zhan Wang (born in 1962), Artificial Rock #85 (2005)—a contemporary example of a Chinese scholar’s rock currently on view in the Shapiro Family Courtyard. Another major gift announced during the Board meeting—which concluded with a standing ovation in Rogers’ honor—was the monumental Devout Men Taking the Body of St. Stephen (1776) by Benjamin West (1738–1830). The rare altarpiece, an anonymous gift celebrating Rogers’ 20 years of “extraordinary leadership as Director,” is currently on view in the MFA’s Conservation in Action gallery. After long-term conservation of the work and its original frame, which measure 18 feet tall by 10 feet wide, the painting will be displayed in the Shapiro Family Courtyard, serving as an important link between the Museum’s wings devoted to Art of Europe and Art of the Americas. Other Board members who have donated gifts of art in Rogers’ honor over the past two decades include, among others, Honorary Trustees Barbara Alfond and her husband Theodore, Mrs. I. W. Colburn, Susan B. Kaplan, Saundra Lane, Joyce Linde, Susan Paine, and Rose-Marie van Otterloo and her husband Eijk; Trustees Carol Noble and her husband Davis, and Ernst von Metzsch and his wife Gail; as well as Honorary Overseer Leonard A. Lauder.
“As one of the largest privately funded museums in the world, I’ve always said the MFA is a ‘collection of collections.’ These gifts represent the passion and commitment of donors who have supported the MFA’s mission of bringing art and people together,” said Rogers. “It’s been such a privilege to serve the MFA as Ann and Graham Gund Director, and I’m truly honored by these gifts, which represent the varied art interests of our Trustees and supporters. I’m grateful to all of the Museum’s friends who have helped build our collection over the past 20 years, and to be able to present these works to our visitors for generations to come.”
In 2014, the Van Otterloos made a gift of 90 works on paper in honor of Rogers, representing Old Master and 19th-century artists including Edouard Manet (1832–1883), Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) and Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863). Other notable works in the collection include an engraving, The Bearing of the Cross (16th century), by Giovanni Battista Fontana (about 1524–1587); Bacchanal with Silenus (1470s) by Andrea Mantegna (about 1431–1506); and Child and Nurse in the Garden, Project for a Screen (about 1892) by Edouard Vuillard (1868–1940).
Other important works were donated in Rogers’ honor since he announced in 2014 his plans to retire, including a diamond necklace by Peter Carl Fabergé (about 1900), given by Susan B. Kaplan in honor of Rogers’ “visionary support of jewelry as an art form,” along with a boldly modern Necklace (1941) by Alexander Calder (1898–1976) given by longtime supporter Daphne Farago—on view on the third floor of the Art of the Americas Wing. In honor of Rogers’ long tenure, recent gifts of contemporary works represent the passage of time. Joyce Linde made possible the acquisition of Lorna Simpson’s 1995 Clock Tower serigraph, as did Ernst and Gail von Metzsch, who provided the funds for Antonio Lopez-Garcia’s Day and Night (2008)—the now-iconic baby head sculptures located outside the Museum at the State Street Corporation Fenway Entrance. This year, Mrs. I. W. Colburn gave two walnut Side chairs (English, about 1720-35) through the Colburn Foundation, which are on view in the Newland House Drawing Room (part of the Alan and Simone Hartman Galleries). The Herb Ritts Foundation gave a group of 50 photographs, including a number of works currently on view in the MFA’s Herb Ritts exhibition. In late 2014, a transformative gift of Japanese art from Cambridge collector and Honorary Overseer Sylvan Barnet and his late partner, William Burto, included a rare mid-8th-century sutra given in honor of Rogers, an important example of Japanese calligraphy.
The first gift in Rogers’ honor came early in his tenure, in 1995—the ancient Egyptian Face from a mummiform coffin (760-660 BC)—from the Thalassic Collection by Aristea and Theodore Halkedis. Parakeets and Gold Fish Bowl (about 1893), designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933), was given by Barbara and Theodore Alfond in 2008, commemorating what would be among Rogers’ proudest achievements, the building of the Art of the Americas Wing. In 2014, the Alfonds recognized another of Rogers’ milestones—his 20 years as Director—with a gift of American painted furniture: a Chest of Drawers (1830-50) from New England and a Blanket Chest (about 1784-1790) from Pennsylvania.
In addition to the approximately 57,000 gifts of art made to the Museum during Rogers’ tenure, a figure which does not include more than 150,000 postcards from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection, other donations have expanded the breadth and depth of the MFA’s holdings. This includes two historic collections—186 objects originally owned by Baron and Baroness Alphonse and Clarice de Rothschild of Vienna, many of which were seized in 1938 following the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany; and the John Singer Sargent Archive, given by Richard Ormond and his wife Leonée, and Warren Adelson together with his wife, Overseer Jan Adelson. Other donations that continue a long tradition of transformational gifts of important collections to the Museum include the 2012 gift of 19th-and 20th-century photography, paintings, and works on paper from the Lane Collection, which included more than 6,000 photographs, 100 works on paper and 25 paintings—one of the finest private holdings of 20th-century American art in the world. Also in 2012, the gift of the Robert Owen Lehman Collection included West African art from the ancient Kingdom of Benin, the single greatest private holding of sculptures, plaques and other objects from Benin (located in present-day Nigeria). In 2013, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Collection of Judaica was given to the MFA, comprising 119 decorative and ritual objects.
Malcolm Rogers became Director of the MFA in September 1994, a position later endowed as the Ann and Graham Gund Director. Rogers became the longest-serving director in MFA history in May 2014, and on September 1, 2014, he marked his 20th anniversary. He has transformed the Museum in many ways, including enhancing arts education and community programs, expanding the Museum’s encyclopedic collection, presenting innovative exhibitions, enlarging the MFA’s campus and renovating and expanding the Museum’s historic building. Rogers’ initiatives have been guided by the MFA’s mission to serve a variety of people through direct encounters with works of art. This has included renovating and reopening both of the Museum’s historic entrances, which had been closed to the public for many years. In addition, Rogers eliminated admission fees for children 17 and younger, extended the Museum’s hours to 7-days a week (among the longest of any American art museum), and instituted a series of free community days and cultural events. More than 1 million visitors a year are exposed to infinite possibilities for education and inspiration at the Museum. Under Rogers’ leadership, the Museum underwent a transformative building renovation and expansion, including the creation of the Art of the Americas Wing and Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard, which opened in 2010. He also oversaw the renovation of the I.M. Pei-designed Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art, which opened in 2011, and the earlier dedication of the George D. and Margo Behrakis Wing for Art of the Ancient World in 2009.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, representing all cultures and time periods. The Museum has more than 140 galleries displaying its encyclopedic collection, which includes Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 am–4:45 pm; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 am–9:45 pm. Admission (which includes one repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and youths age 17 and younger on weekdays after 3 pm, weekends, and Boston Public Schools holidays; otherwise $10. Wednesday nights after 4 pm admission is by voluntary contribution. MFA Members receive free admission. The Museum’s mobile MFA Guide is available at ticket desks and the Sharf Visitor Center for $5, members; $6, non-members; and $4, youths. The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information, visit mfa.org or call 617.267.9300. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.