Arts and Humanities

A phenomenal year is now even better at the Ackland

Carolina's Ackland Art Museum continues expansion with major art gifts, bringing yearly gift total to $66.5 million

For the Ackland Art Museum, 2017 has already been a phenomenal year.

In January, Carolina graduate Sheldon Peck and his wife, Leena, made a $25 million commitment to the Ackland Art Museum. That gift included an $8 million endowment and a $17 million art gift that included seven works by Rembrandt.

The year got even better last week as Carolina kicked off its multiyear fundraising campaign, “For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina.” As part of the launch, officials announced three more gifts for the Ackland valued at $41.5 million that include diverse art works from a wide variety of artists.

“It’s impossible to express how excited we all feel about something that happens so infrequently actually happening several times in one year,” said Ackland director Katie Ziglar.

The gifts announced last week include:

  • a $25 million gift from alumni John L. Townsend III and his wife Marree Townsend that features a collection of 150 pieces of art by American and European modern masters, including paintings and prints by Joan Mitchell and prints of Jasper Johns’ most iconic images. Other highlights include works by Howard Hodgkin, Alex Katz, Marsden Hartley, Ad Reinhardt, Hans Hofmann, Gerhard Richter, Richard Diebenkorn, Jennifer Bartlett, Lee Krasner, Sean Scully, Anton Henning, Rachel Howard, Glenn Brown, Mark Alexander and Adrien Ghenie;
  • an $11.5 million gift from alumnus John G. Ellison Jr. that features Joan Mitchell’s 1967 “Untitled,” a 1971 untitled oil and charcoal on paper by Willem de Kooning and Helen Frankenthaler’s 10-by-7-foot 1976 work “Vernal”; and
  • a $5 million landmark gift from former Ackland Director Charles W. Millard III that encompasses his entire 375-work collection ranging from South Asian sculpture and 19th-century photographs to North Carolina pottery and 20th-century abstraction. Millard’s gift also includes early cartoons and comic strips, Byzantine earthenware of the 12th century, Japanese calligraphy and master prints from the Western tradition.

With these commitments, the Ackland has secured gifts totaling $66.5 million in this year alone. The museum has set a $250 million campaign goal.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt said the gifts “continue an incredible year of support for Carolina’s enduring commitment to the visual arts.”

“The generosity of John Ellison, Charlie Millard and John and Marree Townsend and our Arts Everywhere initiative is making Carolina a must-experience destination for the visual arts,” Folt said.

Arts Everywhere is a signature initiative in the Campaign for Carolina and it aims to bring arts to everyone on campus.

Ziglar said the gifts are a tribute to the affection that alumni have for UNC-Chapel Hill.

“These wonderful gifts come from wonderful donors demonstrating a wellspring of generosity, intelligence and understanding of the visual arts having a key role in higher education,” Ziglar said. “I want you to know that 10,500 students from 300 classes in 30 different disciplines are taught at the Ackland every year to look close and think far.”

Ziglar said those words – to look close and think far – capture the meaning of the museum’s work and are in keeping with the chancellor’s Blueprint for Next, which will guide Carolina’s growth and future direction.

“We promote the fact that art is meant for all kind to enjoy and appreciate,” Ziglar said. “Every great university has a great art museum. It is our goal to become the pre-eminent global public research art museum in the United States. With your help, we can. With these marvelous gifts, we are well on our way.”