Colby joins top 20 in world for large donations

Colby Museum of Art from outside perspective

The Colby College Museum of Art has received a transformative gift from Peter and Paula Lunder, valued at over $100 million, that will add almost 1,150 pieces of art to the museum’s collection. The gift will also launch the Lunder Institute for American Art, a global research center dedicated to scholarly and creative exchange across disciplines.

With this gift, Colby is now among one of 19 institutions in the world to receive multiple gifts of more than $100 million. Colby is the only undergraduate liberal arts institution and the smallest school, by enrollment, to receive multiple gifts of this magnitude.

Colby is also among an increasingly small group of colleges and universities that have elite museums of art. The Colby Museum of Art, whose acquisitions budget is approximately $500,000, has been bolstered by, and relies on, substantial donations that increase its collection size. The Colby Museum of Art, founded in 1959, is one of the largest museums in Maine.

The Lunders have been longtime supporters of Colby and both have received honorary degrees and serve on the Museum’s Board of Governors. Peter Lunder is a 1956 graduate of Colby and a life overseer of the College. Paula Lunder is a life trustee of Colby, having served on the Board of Trustees since 1998.

In 2013, the Lunders donated hundreds of works of art that transformed the Museum into one of the finest college art museums in the country in a gift that was also valued at over $100 million.

Their most recent gift includes works by more than 150 artists including Romare Bearden, Mary Cassatt, Olafur Eliasson, Jacob Lawrence, Maya Lin, Julie Mehretu, Joan Mitchell, Georgia O’Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, Pablo Picasso, Betye Saar, Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt van Rijn, Ai Weiwei, Fred Wilson, and James McNeill Whistler.

The Lunder Institute for American Art will house a fellowship program that will bring the world’s leading artists, researchers, curators, and emerging scholars to Colby for cross-disciplinary dialogues. The Museum and its collections will be the laboratory for these fellows, who will work with Colby faculty and students on a wide variety of artistic and multidisciplinary projects. Fellowship visits will take place throughout the academic year as well as during the summer.
To advance critical and creative research in American art and related fields, the Institute includes a residential program for scholars and artists on campus and in downtown Waterville. Residencies for graduate students, scholars, curators, and emerging and internationally renowned artists range from several weeks to a year, during the summer and the
academic year.

Activities at the Lunder Institute will include an exhibition program, a publication program, and the organization of a major multidisciplinary symposia.

Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator at the Museum Sharon Corwin has held the position since 2006. Corwin oversaw the completion of the museum’s Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion in 2013, making the Colby Museum one of the biggest in Maine.
The Lunders told The Boston Globe that they are “delighted that our art collection will be shared with future Colby students, the Waterville community, and visitors to Maine, and we know that Colby College will do a marvelous job enhancing the collection with their academic programs. We feel that Colby is the perfect home for our collection.”