An essential part of any museum’s mission is to expand its permanent collection with quality examples of local, national, and international art that enhances its chosen narrative. Gifts and bequests of artwork to the museum bring greater depth and significance to its collection which, in turn, provides the visual curricula for its educational programming. These gifts to the museum are “investments” in the community that benefit thousands of visitors for generations to come. Some of the more recent donations – paintings, prints, photographs, and sculpture – are displayed here and at the downtown gallery.
When all is said and done, this institution owes the private collectors in its community an enormous debt. Without them, many of the works of art you see here would have been lost or destroyed. Our Permanent Collection is, to a far larger extent than anyone realizes, private collections which have been accumulated and donated by civic-minded individuals. It is not town councils or chamber of commerce, or any other emanations of the popular will, which have sacred works of art for the general publics edification, but a number of exceptional collectors who have had one principle worth all the rest, the principle of delight. Each purchase is the record of a vivid experience, either a long pursuit or a struggle in which mounting desire has conquered prudence and economy. It has been brought home in triumph, unpacked with trembling hands, and placed, after many experiments, in the right company and the right light. It is true that after a few months have gone by the collector will forget all about it for days on end. But each time a sympathetic visitor looks at one of his precious “pets”, something of his first rapture returns; it becomes once more a friend, toy, fetish and familiar and there is re-established that complex human relationship which gives the private collection its life.
What you will see in this exhibition is the culmination and product of the response of a civilized and imaginative community of collectors to the impulse, the creativity, and, in some cases, the desperation of the artist to make the world, its beauty and meaning, come true. Above all else these generous patrons cared for quality and beauty, however, expressed. They believed that only “the book of art” (Ruskin’s phrase) tells the ultimate truth about place or an age. Consequently, in their judgment, all society’s “high falutin” declarations and aspirations will turn to dust, but its art will remain to declare, unarguably, where its heart lay. Their continuous search for significant art together with their largess toward this museum produced this collection and made it unique.
These pieces selected from this Permanent Collection provide vision and, as Edward L. Kamarch puts it, as “vision”, they have their greatest social utility. They speak eloquently for man by devoting his larger possibilities, extending the horizons of his consciousness and understanding, and challenging the system of doctrine and dogma which narrow and constrict human aspirations. As the Museum of Art – DeLand matures as an institution, it will nurture this community by expanding its education commitments, not beyond its capabilities, but to a point where the general public can make the most of its resources.
CEO, Museum of Art – DeLand