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Arthur M. Sackler Foundation Donates Works of Art

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Maker unknown (Chinese), Guanyin (detail), 960-1368
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea

July 27, 2012

The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (MHCAM) is proud to announce a landmark gift of 17 works of art from the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation. In a letter from Elizabeth Sackler, President and Chief Executive of the Foundation, the Museum was notified that these objects, which had previously been on loan since 2004, were being converted into outright gifts. Ms. Sackler noted that it was the unanimous wish of the Foundation’s board to give these exceptional works of art in honor of the Museum’s record of innovative approaches to interdisciplinary teaching with art.

Comprising works from Asia and the Near East, the works being given date from the second or third millennium BCE to the early 17th century CE and add to the existing strength of Asian art in the MHCAM collection. Key works include a pair of Tang dynasty (609-907 CE) ceramic camels and a painted wood sculpture of the bodhisattva Guanyin from China, a bronze Buddha from Thailand, and clay vessels from Iran.

Currently on view in the Norah McCarter Warbeke Gallery of Asian Art, the works have been used extensively in courses on subjects as diverse as the Silk Road and the food of ancient China and Italy. Indicating an appreciation for MHCAM’s focus on the use of its collection in education at all levels, the Foundation wrote, “For more than 40 years, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation has been committed to making its collections available to students, scholars, and the general public. It is our firm belief that your museum and college will carry our goals into the future, enhancing the lives of so very many individuals. Your interdisciplinary use is exemplary.”

“We are truly grateful to the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation for this extraordinary gift”, commented Mount Holyoke President, Lynn Pasquerella. “The Museum is a centerpiece of liberal learning at Mount Holyoke, and each of these works will contribute enormously to our goal of integrating art throughout the curriculum and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration.” Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987), physician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, made his fortune in the pharmaceutical field, in the United States. He was also an art scholar and collector who acquired objects from India, Japan and the Near East, as well as from Europe and the New World; his collection of Chinese ceramics, bronzes, jades and sculpture, was one of the most important outside of China. Donating to many of the world’s leading cultural and academic institutions, Sackler endowed galleries, often with his brothers, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Princeton University, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology at Peking University in Beijing, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., and the Jillian & Arthur M. Sackler Wing at the Royal Academy, London. According to Dr. Sackler, “Great art, like science and the humanities, can never remain as the possession of one individual, creator or collector . . . great art and all culture belongs to all humankind.” Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is pleased to share his gift with the campus, the community, and the wider world.

The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley is a leading collegiate art museum. Its comprehensive permanent collection of 17,000 objects features Asian art, 19th- and 20thcentury European and American paintings and sculpture, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art, Medieval sculpture, early Italian Renaissance paintings, and an extensive collection of works on paper. For more information, visit or call 413-538-2085.

The Museum is free, open to the public, and fully accessible. Hours are Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 5
p.m., Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Sundays.