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Treasures on Paper: Alumni Gifts to the Collection

The Johnson Museum has always depended on its alumni to help build our collections in all media, but it can arguably be said that it is the works on paper collection that is the reason there is a museum on this campus. William Chapman, Jr., Class of 1895, gave the first key gift of over three thousand works of art to Cornell University in the 1940s. This gift included prints, drawings, and photographs that ranged from the Renaissance to works by Chapman’s own contemporaries. At the time, there was no museum here, but when the A. D. White House was no longer needed as the Cornell President’s home, it was converted to Cornell’s first museum, to house this important collection and present exhibitions in various media.

Today the works on paper collection is over 20,000 strong and, as can be seen from this exhibition, represents artists from around the world and from all historical periods, reflecting the broad range of interests of our donors. We have been very fortunate that so many Cornell alumni are avid collectors and they have generously shared their acquisitions with us, making the Johnson Museum one of the finest university collections of works on paper in this country. This exhibition pays tribute to our donors, particularly the Reunion classes of 1946, 1951, 1956, and 1966, who this year are celebrating their continued connection to their alma mater. The exhibition also is in large part a tribute to the generosity of Jonathan Stein, Class of 1966, who died tragically earlier this year.

Nancy E. Green
Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs