Golden Gift from a Golden Age


News out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, late last week was making waves in the museum world as UNC alumni Sheldon and Leena Peck made one heck of a gift. The inside scoop is here.

Administrators of both the University of North Carolina and its on-campus art institution, the Ackland Art Museum, are jumping for joy after renowned alumni Sheldon and Leena Peck made a stunning donation valued at over $25 million. The unprecedented gift includes an $8 million endowment to support a new curator. More importantly, the gift features 134 17th-century masterworks, including several drawings by Rembrandt van Rijn.

Jacob Jordaens, “Portrait of Elizabeth van Noort,” circa 1630s, black, red, and white chalk on paper, 12-3/8 x 9-5/8 in. (c) Ackland Art Museum 2017
Jacob Jordaens, “Portrait of Elizabeth van Noort,” circa 1630s, black, red, and white chalk on paper, 12-3/8 x 9-5/8 in. (c) Ackland Art Museum 2017

Not only does the donation significantly bolster the Ackland’s current collection, it marks a historic moment for university museums around the country. With the gift, the Ackland Art Museum becomes the first university art museum to own a collection of Rembrandt drawings. University Chancellor Carol L. Folt said, “This amazing gift of European Golden Age art treasures — preserved for nearly 400 years and lovingly collected by the Pecks over the past 40 years — delights us today with its timeless beauty and will forever inspire future generations of students, scholars, and visitors that come to our historic campus. These drawings are a remarkable window through which we glimpse past cultures and times through the eyes of masters. We are honored by the inestimable value of the Pecks’ gift because it advances Carolina’s public mission to serve the people of North Carolina and makes the university a destination for people of all ages from around the world for all time.”

To learn more, visit the Ackland Art Museum.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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