TACOMA, Wash. (AP) – A German billionaire with roots in Tacoma is giving his Western American art collection to the Tacoma Art Museum.
Most of a planned new 15,000-square-foot wing and all of the 280-piece art collection come courtesy of Erivan Haub and his wife Helga, who own property in Tacoma, the News Tribune reported.
The museum announced the gift, the largest in the museum’s history, and expansion plans on Monday.
Rock Hushka, curator of contemporary and Northwest art for TAM, said the collection records the history of Western art from the 1820s to the early 21st century.
“It’s a huge moment for us,” museum director Stephanie Stebich told the newspaper. “It places Tacoma Art Museum among the top 12 museums that have this breadth and quality (of Western American art).”
Stebich declined to say how much of the building project is being financed by the Haubs but called that portion “significant.”
Discussions with the Haubs about the gift began in earnest last fall, Stebich said. A redesign for the plaza was already in the works. Funding for it will come from other sources.
“We’re doing everything we can to preserve the integrity of the existing architecture, but the new wing will have a unique identity that will integrate with the existing building,” Hushka said.
The Haub collection is a who’s who of Western art: Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Georgia O’Keeffe, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, John Clymer, and Tom Lovell as well as contemporary artists such as Bill Schenck. It contains both paintings and sculptures.
“This is definitely one of the finest Western art collections in private hands,” Hushka said. Only the Denver Art Museum with its extensive collections of Native American art and Western painting and photography has a substantially greater collection, museum officials said.
The Haubs have established an endowment to care for the art that they have been collecting since 1984.
“It’s a broader definition of the West,” Stebich said of the collection. “The Haubs collected both for quality and breadth.”
Some of the artists represented, such as Schenck, bear little resemblance to cowboy artists like Remington. “(Schenck is) like Andy Warhol meets the West. He’s got a pop sensibility. (His art says) ‘We’re not finished with the West,’” Stebich said.
The gift raises the stature of TAM in the art world and comes on the heels of a major gift of glass art from artist Paul Marioni, the newspaper reported.
“The history of Northwest art can’t be told unless you know the story of American art. A full story of American art has to include these images of the American West,” Hushka told the News-Tribune. “By keeping this collection intact and in Tacoma it helps us understand who we are as Northwesterners,” he added.
Information from: The News Tribune, http://www.thenewstribune.com
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE