From the CEO: Bravo, Neuberger Museum of Art

This month, Westchester arts enthusiasts are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Neuberger Museum of Art. There is no getting away from it that sitting quietly on the SUNY Purchase campus is one of the most preeminent collections of modern, contemporary and African art. The collection includes such famous artistic greats as Milton Avery, Romare Bearden, Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler and Willem de Kooning, to name a few. In my mind, it is important for all of us to remember and applaud the idea that this stunning collection of important artworks was the inspiration of two important leaders, both of whom were dedicated to making art available and accessible for the public good.

What that concept is about is a notion that art at its best and most perfect ideal should be made available to everyone and not stored away, for example in a cloistered setting never to see the light of day. For me, it echoes the mantra of ArtsWestchester, which is that “the arts are for everyone.”

More than 50 years ago, corporate magnate Roy R. Neuberger the inveterate collector of contemporary art was surveying his collection, which had grown magnifically. He began to consider donating some of the pieces in the collection and, in fact, made several gifts. One to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; another to the Whitney. We can only imagine that observing this generosity was none other than Governor Nelson Rockefeller, himself an inveterate art collector. I, for one, can imagine the Governor swooping down to tell Roy Neuberger of the advantages of giving the collection to New York State. This was not a new president, as the governor had previously given the state some objects from his own collection.

While I and others might have loved to be a fly on the wall for this conversation, it seems to our knowledge that the governor promised Neuberger a museum on the Purchase campus to house this proposed gift.

At a 50 year distance and remembering this historic transaction, those of us who have made the Neuberger Museum a big part of our journey must congratulate the college and the museum for remaining steadfast in the purpose of protecting, conserving and sharing this collection with the public at large. On Saturday evening, April 13, the museum will give a shout out to ArtsWestchester for its critical support of the Neu Museum, which was opened to the public in 1974. ArtsWestchester has been a key partner to, and funder of, the Friends of the Neuberger Museum for more than five decades. I think this deserves a double bravo – one for the museum and one for ArtsWestchester, working in tandem for the arts in Westchester.

Photo caption: Museum staff and Lippincott preparators during the installation of Nevelson at Purchase, The Metal Sculptures, 1977. Photographer unknown.

About Janet Langsam

During her time at the helm of ArtsWestchester, the organization – formerly known as the Westchester Arts Council – has grown from a $1 million to a $6 million agency and has excelled at making the arts more visible, diverse and accessible for all. ArtsWestchester offers financial and marketing support to emerging arts groups, cultural institutions and grassroots activities throughout Westchester County.

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