Celebrating a Milestone: 75 Years of the National Gallery of Art and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, III: The Leveraged Gift: The Making of the David and Alfred Smart Museum at the University of Chicago
Max Koss, Samuel H. Kress Foundation Provenance Research Fellow, David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art and University of Chicago. When the National Gallery of Art opened its doors in March 1941, the original Andrew W. Mellon gift was augmented by a collection of Italian art donated by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Kress was the first to offer a donation in response to Andrew Mellon's call for contributions for the new national art museum. Ultimately, the foundation gave the Gallery a total of over 700 paintings and sculptures, in addition to over 1,300 small bronzes, medals, and plaquettes. In 2010, the foundation awarded the Gallery a grant to conduct provenance research on the entire Kress collection of paintings, distributed nationwide to regional museums and study collections in university-affiliated institutions. In this lecture recorded on May 23, 2016, Max Koss explains that the Kress “giveaway” included 22 works donated to the University of Chicago, which had no significant collection of Western art, much less a museum to house it. Edward A. Maser, professor of art history and founding director of the David and Alfred Smart Museum, secured the gift and used the boost it provided to build an exemplary teaching institution. This program is supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Provenance Research Project.