Gilcrease Museum has been named a recipient of a three-year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation totaling $890,000. This award from the foundation’s American Art Program will result in focused research, conservation treatments and digital curation of two large Gilcrease collections ultimately providing enhanced knowledge and access to more than 3,800 objects.
Specifically, the grant will support projects including works on paper by Thomas Moran and Mary Nimmo Moran and Native American painting traditions in Oklahoma. Rarely have the Morans’ works on paper been on view at Gilcrease or loaned to other institutions because of their fragility, yet Gilcrease boasts the largest, most comprehensive collection of the couple’s works (more than 2,300 combined). Additionally, the Gilcrease collection of Native American narrative paintings spans more than 150 years and consists of more than 1,500 objects from hide paintings to ledger drawings, tempera paintings and contemporary art.
Preserving and Sharing History
“We are honored to be the recipient of such a prestigious grant and are eager to begin the work ahead of us,” said Susan Neal, executive director of Gilcrease Museum. “The Luce Foundation’s support is a testament to the world-class collection we have and its ability to contribute to the larger American story. Awards like these afford us the opportunity to learn about never-before-studied works, the first step in eventually being able to exhibit them for the world.”
Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the Foundation’s American Art Program, a leader in arts funding since 1982, supports museums, arts organizations and universities in their efforts to advance the understanding and experience of American and Native American visual arts through research, exhibitions, collection projects and publications.
“The Luce Foundation is pleased to the support Gilcrease in its effort to explore and share the museum’s deep and significant American art collection in fresh and meaningful ways,” said Teresa Carbone, program director for the American Art Program at Henry Luce Foundation.
With work getting underway in early 2020, the Luce Foundation grant will fund temporary positions for scholars and museum professionals in curatorial, conservation, digitization and collection management. In turn, Gilcrease will gain new perspectives and interpretations of the specified objects and paintings. With an ever-present ambition to develop new exhibitions from the permanent collection, this grant provides the museum an unprecedented opportunity to learn more about existing collections.
“Investing in top talent is critical to our mission and commitment to share more of our permanent collection and contribute to the collective body of knowledge in art and history,” Neal said. “The opportunity to bring in additional scholars and trained museum experts cannot be understated as this grant is also allowing us to attract smart, creative professionals to Tulsa.”
The Luce Foundation grant provides a unique opportunity for Gilcrease Museum to gain a deeper appreciation for these artists and their legacies, while contributing original scholarship to the field of American art. Through digitization, conservation and research, Gilcrease intends to use these collections to reach new audiences with an expanded narrative and inspire the next generation of museum visitors and scholars alike.