Stuart Feld highlights magnitude of Museum’s collection, April 5

William Bradford's 1866 painting, "Sealers Crushed by Icebergs" (above). Stuart P. Feld and Richard C. Kugler (below, left to right) pose in front of the Bradford in 2003. Mr. Feld will talk on April 5th about the many important works added to the Museum's collection during Mr. Kugler's directorship. The program will include a reception and presentation of a major gift to the museum in Mr. Kugler's honor.

Stuart P. Feld, president of Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, opens the 2012 Old Dartmouth Lyceum lecture series with an illustrated program titled Whaling Museum acquisitions during the tenure of Director and Curator Richard C. Kugler on Thursday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater. A reception at 6:30 p.m. honoring Mr. Kugler in the Jacobs Family Gallery precedes the lecture.

A leading authority on American art, Mr. Feld will share his insights on 19th century paintings acquired by the museum during Mr. Kugler’s 25 years of service – a period of prodigious growth in the scope and breadth of the collection. The lecture will focus on works by celebrated American artist, William Bradford (1823-1892), a traveler and adventurer fascinated with the Arctic landscape. Mr. Kugler is a biographer and recognized expert on Bradford.

Mr. Feld became one of the first Fellows at The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1961. He worked in the Department of American Paintings and Sculpture at The Metropolitan Museum, during which time he co-authored American Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1967, he left his post as Associate Curator in Charge of the Department and joined Hirschl & Adler Galleries as a partner, becoming its sole proprietor in 1982. He has authored many articles and catalogues in the field of American Art – both fine and decorative arts – and is a frequent lecturer around the country.

The evening will also include a special presentation by Bruce and Karen Wilburn of their major gift to the museum, minus fees, of $150,000 – netted recently from the sale at auction of their copy of a rare 1873 book by Bradford, titled The Arctic Regions: Illustrated with Photographs Taken on an Art Expedition – at the Swann Galleries, New York City. The gift will fund several museum projects related to the history of arctic exploration.

James Russell, museum president said, “On behalf of the trustees, I wish to sincerely thank Bruce and Karen Wilburn for their remarkable gift. It will enable the museum to tell an extraordinary chapter in the story of American exploration and in the life of William Bradford – a New Bedford native who rose to become one of the great names in 19th century American art – and whose work in the Arctic more than 140 years ago holds new relevancy for current scientific research and global climate change.”

Mr. Wilburn noted “We would not have made this contribution were it not for Dick Kugler. Over the many years that we have been associated with the museum, Dick was always accessible, immensely knowledgeable and a phenomenal asset to the organization. His name is synonymous with Bradford and it is with great appreciation and affection for him that we make this gift.”

Frances F. Levin, chair of the museum’s collection committee, noted “under Dick Kugler’s leadership the museum collection grew to become truly world-class. In particular, his extraordinary scholarship and vision in acquiring Bradford’s works is a lasting legacy, one which continues to inspire significant gifts such as the Wilburns’ and will in turn produce new insights into the nexus of art and science, as will be seen next year.”

Michael Lapides, director of digital initiatives and curator for next year’s exhibition, said, “The Wilburns’ generous gift will enable the museum to create Arctic Regions: Away then Floats the Ice-Island, scheduled to open spring of 2013. Bradford’s rare elephant folio will be at the core of this exhibit. Many of the original wet plate collodian negatives made on the 1869 voyage belong to the Museum and will be used to produce spectacular prints. The exhibit will highlight intersections between art, commerce, science and exploration. These funds will also enable the museum to republish Bradford’s book, as well as offer educational programming.”

Admission: $15 members; $20 non-members. For tickets, call (508) 997-0046 Ext. 100.

The 2012 Speakers’ Series is presented by BayCoast Bank, and sponsored in part by C.E. Beckman, and Hampton Inn Fairhaven/New Bedford.

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