The Ackland Art Museum received its largest donation to date from Massachusetts couple Sheldon and Leena Peck in January 2017. The gift, valued at $25 million, includes approximately $17 million in donated artwork and $8 million in cash. Staff writer Tiffani Gibbs asked Katie Ziglar, museum director, about what the museum will do with the money.
The Daily Tar Heel: Can you explain the Sheldon Peck Endowment that the museum received in January?
Katie Ziglar: So the Pecks gave a collection of art, and then they also gave $8 million in total. $7.5 million of that is going to be used for an endowment, and $500,000 is spendable. The ($500,000) is going to be used for various things to get the collection up and running, and we are going to create a major exhibition of the whole collection and a big catalog to go with it with lots of scholarly articles in it and a tour for (the collection) for several domestic museums and maybe this tour to go abroad. We don’t know yet.
(Of) the $7.5 million, $5 million of it is for a curator. The earnings from that $5 million will pay for the salary and benefits for the curator, and research, travel and things like that. The rest of the money will be for endowment for the purchase for the other works of art. It will generate income that we can use to buy anything that is American or European up to 1950 — except prints. The curator can be someone who is either more of a specialist or more of a generalist in either European or American art up to 1950. It’s a very broad position.
DTH: What is the collection going to consist of?
KZ: It can be anything. So it can be ceramics, paintings, sculptures. Anything but prints. It was the preference of the donor. I think he probably feels that we have so many prints in our collection already. I can’t tell you exactly — but we have 13,000 works of art on paper.
DTH: Has this position existed before at the Ackland Museum?
KZ: No. This is going to be a brand new position and the reason we will have it is because of the additional money that has come through the Peck’s generosity that has allowed us to have it. It’s exciting to have a new curatorial position. At the moment we have one assistant curator, one associate curator and one full curator. We will probably have two full curators and then continue with an associate curator and an assistant curator.
DTH: What do you hope people will gain from the presence of the new curator position and the collection?
KZ: A lot of people have heard about the gift because it was so well-publicized. It has already enhanced our reputation in the field of Northern European drawings, and as a result of this, more people are visiting and asking to see the Peck Collection. We have been invited to participate in a couple of shows that the organizers would have probably not been in contact with us before the Peck Gift came. It has made a very big difference in our profile.
DTH: What other new positions, if any, is the museum developing?
KZ: Many people don’t realize that our first Asian curator, who is Bradley Bailey, was hired in November of 2015. Bradley has been here for about a year and a half. He has been tremendously productive. That’s the first new curator we have had in a long time and the first ever on the subject of Asian art. Now we will have the Peck curator that will be coming on. After that, I think our next move will be in the contemporary field.
DTH: Is there anything else you would like to say?
KZ: I think we are in a period of growth. The Peck Gift is certainly a good start, it’s a fantastic start. We have gotten other gifts that have come as a result of the Peck Gift. Donors have mentioned the Peck gift as something that has inspired them to give a gift of their own, whether in art or financial support for the museum. We are already reaching over 10,000 Carolina students a year who have classes here. We would like to have every Carolina student visitor at least once a year. We also would like to deepen our relationship with the community. I think that’s an area with a lot of room for improvement.