Harvard University has announced that it has received a gift of thirty-one major works of modern and contemporary art and an additional pledge of $45 million from alumna and former Harvard Art Museum curator Emily Rauh Pulitzer.
The single largest donation in the museum's history, the gift builds on more than fifty years of support for both the museum and the university by Pulitzer and her late husband, Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. The collection — estimated to be worth nearly $200 million — includes important paintings and sculptures by Brancusi, Derain, Giacometti, Lipchitz, Mir�, Modigliani, and Picasso, as well as major contemporary works by Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Serra, Shapiro, and Tuttle. Although Harvard's art collection boasts about 265,000 objects, it had "shocking gaps" in postwar art that the gift will help remedy, museum director Thomas W. Lentz told the New York Times.
In announcing the gift, the university also announced previous gifts of forty-three artworks made between 1953 and 2005 by Emily and Joseph Pulitzer, and by Pulitzer and his first wife, Louise — who died in 1968 — that were never formally announced. The gifts, both outright and partial, include paintings by Braque, C�zanne, Mir�, Monet, Picasso, and Stella, as well as works on paper by C�zanne, Degas, and Delaunay. Over the years, the Pulitzers have also provided financial support to help the museum purchase ninety-two additional works of art.
The most recent gift comes at the beginning of a major, five-year initiative by the university to renovate and expand historic buildings in Cambridge to allow for a more effective presentation of the collections and exhibitions of the three museums that compose the Harvard Art Museum — the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Sackler museums. Besides new exhibition galleries and study centers, the effort will focus on the broader integration of the museum's collections and programs into the academic life of the university.
"The Harvard Art Museum's distinguished collections and dedication to teaching and research in the arts have had a significant impact on the field, on scholarship, and on my own life," said Pulitzer, who served in numerous leadership roles at the museum and at the university. "Both Joe and I have supported the art museum over the years in recognition of Harvard's unparalleled role in the development of professionals in the arts worldwide and because of our belief that the arts are a cornerstone in learning and education in all fields."