Fenimore Art Museum Receives $2.5 Million to Endow Curator Position for Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

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Fenimore Art Museum Receives $2.5 Million to Endow Curator Position for Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

Contact: Todd Kenyon, Director of Marketing and Communications
Fenimore Art Museum
(607) 547-1472
pr@fenimoreart.org

 

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York has received a gift of $2.5 million from the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust. The gift will fund the principal curatorial position of the Thaw Collection of American Indian Art as well as create a new fund for special projects related to the collection. In recognition of the gift, the position has been named the Eugene and Clare Thaw Curator of American Indian Art. Present curator Eva Fognell, who has managed the collection since 2002, will assume the new title immediately. The curatorship is the first endowed position in the museum’s history.

An additional gift of $1 million will support the Fenimore’s art acquisition fund beginning in 2019. The gift also included several notable artworks including the painting Elk Swimming at the Platte by American artist Alfred Jacob Miller.

“I am truly honored to carry the new title that bears Eugene and Clare Thaw’s name,” said Eva Fognell, the Eugene and Clare Thaw Curator of American Indian Art. “I feel so fortunate to have been able to get to know Mr. Thaw over the years and work with a collection of such artistic significance.”

“We are profoundly grateful to the Thaw Charitable Trust and its President, Katie Flanagan, for providing such generous support, which allows us to endow this position,” said Dr. Paul S. D’Ambrosio, Fenimore Art Museum President and CEO. “This gift helps ensure that the Fenimore continues to be a leader in the collection, study, and presentation of the finest examples of North American Indian art.”

In 1991, the Thaws donated their collection of North American Indian art to Fenimore Art Museum. The Thaw Collection of American Indian Art made its debut in 1995, housed in a newly-built wing designed by renowned New York architect Hugh Hardy. This wing was funded by Jane Forbes Clark and the Clark Foundation in honor of her grandfather, Stephen Carlton Clark. Each season, this unique assemblage of Native American masterworks delights the museum’s 45,000 annual visitors, including over 8,000 students. Each object affirms the Thaws’ commitment to the beauty and artistry of American Indian art, and thus strengthens the philosophical foundation of the collection: that the aesthetic power of American Indian art is equivalent to that from any culture.

Between 1991 and 2017, additional donations from the Thaws have grown the collection considerably to nearly 900 works. The Fenimore travels many of the pieces from the collection throughout the world to major museums each year. In 2017, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City displayed 45 masterworks in the exhibition American Indian Art from the Fenimore Art Museum: The Thaw Collection. The exhibit received outstanding reviews and was seen by nearly 100,000 people during its five-month run. This collection has also been exhibited in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, as well as major cities in the United States and Canada.

 

 

About Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw

Eugene Thaw was recognized as a leading art dealer and collector of Old Master drawings and paintings. Thaw and his wife, Clare, first began acquiring indigenous American art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1987. From the outset, they approached American Indian material culture as fine art, applying the same exacting standards of connoisseurship as they applied to other areas of their collection. They engaged in a 30-year quest to assemble exceptional works of art produced by cultures throughout North America, from 500 B.C. to the present. In 1991, the Thaws decided to share their collection with the American public by donating it to the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, where it is on permanent view. Today the collection is the point of departure for a dynamic study of Native American art.

The Thaws played an important role as benefactors to many New York arts institutions, including the Morgan Library and Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Fenimore Art Museum, where Mr. Thaw was an Honorary Trustee.

 

About the Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

In 1995, the Fenimore Art Museum embarked upon a new era with the addition of a new American Indian Wing designed to house the extraordinary gift from Eugene and Clare Thaw of their collection of American Indian art containing nearly 900 objects. Each object affirms the Thaws’ commitment to the beauty and artistry of American Indian art, and thus strengthens the philosophical foundation of the collection: that the aesthetic power of American Indian art is equivalent to that from any culture.

 

About Fenimore Art Museum


Fenimore Art Museum, located on the shores of Otsego Lake—James Fenimore Cooper’s “Glimmerglass”—in historic Cooperstown, New York, features a wide-ranging collection of American art including folk art; important American 18th- and 19th-century landscape, genre, and portrait paintings; more than 125,000 historic photographs representing the technical developments made in photography and providing extensive visual documentation of the region’s unique history; and the renowned Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art comprised of nearly 900 art objects representative of a broad geographic range of North American Indian cultures, from the Northwest Coast, Eastern Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Great Lakes, and Prairie regions. Visit FenimoreArt.org.

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