Major gifts transform CSU’s art museum

Museum director Linny Frickman and collections manager Suzanne Hale check off inventory as works arrive at the new Gregory Allicar Museum.

Colorado State University’s Gregory Allicar Museum already is considered among the best college art museums in the region. Now, thanks to two significant gifts, that reputation is being greatly enhanced.

In order to provide a suitable environment for the most valuable art donation in CSU’s history – the Hartford-Tandstad Collection of nearly 200 works of art, including works by pivotal figures in the history of European art – the staff at the newly named Gregory Allicar Museum (formerly the University Art Museum) last week began moving pieces of art into the museum, which is part of CSU’s University Center for the Arts. Selections from the collection, including the remarkable works on paper from European artists, will be displayed in the museum, slated to open in September.

‘Tremendous gift’

The Hartford-Tandstad Collection, a 2011 gift from Larry Hartford and Torleif Tandstad, served as the catalyst for the expansion of the museum. The extraordinary gift, donated in cooperation with the Tessa Foundation, and its creators, David G. Neenan and Sharon L. Neenan, is the largest ever received by the museum and has been valued at more than $1.5 million.

The longtime Los Angeles art appraisers and business partners, who retired to Fort Collins in the 90s, made the bequest in honor of their mothers, Della Von Routt and Berta Midtbust Tandstad.

“This tremendous gift helps take our art museum to the next level. We are so grateful that these respected art appraisers have entrusted their extensive art collection and research materials to Colorado State University,” said Brett Anderson, vice president for university advancement. “Their generosity not only supports the vibrant arts culture in our community but provides our students with fantastic exposure to art through the ages that helps enrich and bring to life their learning.”

Newly expanded, remodeled museum to open in September

The Gregory Allicar Museum of Art recently announced its new name and grand re-opening. Thanks to a generous gift of more than $2 million dollars from a lead donor, the museum will open its expanded and remodeled space with a public event on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Leading up to the re-opening, nine new exhibitions will be installed by museum curators and staff. In addition to the Hartford-Tandstad focus, the museum’s growing and stellar African and Native American collections, as well as a temporary exhibition of contemporary photography, will be on display during the fall semester.

The eclectic Hartford-Tandstad collection, formed through the love of particular pieces by the donors, isn’t specifically encyclopedic or cohesive, yet art historians recognize themes that are important to museum visitors today: themes of power and control; themes of interaction with nature and our impact on the environment; and themes of how cultures have, and continue to, interact.

“A curatorial team of art historians has long been thinking about how the works in this collection can tell stories and illustrate the importance of the visual arts to understanding our remarkable histories and cultures,” said museum director Linny Frickman.

New space creates opportunities

Prior to the expansion, the original museum space accommodated just three concurrent, rotating exhibitions. Due to the new combination of permanent and temporary exhibitions, the scope of what can be accomplished expands the museum’s impact and reach.

Since its opening in 2009, Poudre School District teachers, as well as faculty at CSU and other institutions, have often used the museum’s exhibitions as a reference for teaching a variety of subjects, but were not able to depend on the consistent display of specific material.

“We can now begin to develop in-depth curriculum that educators can return to each year,” Frickman said.

“I hope all the (students) at the university will be able to have this as a learning tool,” Hartford said in an interview before his death in 2011. “Then, I will feel my life was worthwhile.”

Torleif Tandstad, who along with Larry Hartford donated a personal collection valued at $1.5 million to CSU, talks with University Center for the Arts creative director Mike Solo while works of art are packed for transfer to the Gregory Allicar Museum.

Tandstad echoed Hartford’s sentiment while the pieces were being packed in his home.

The museum team’s vision for the visual arts as a flexible entry point to learning in other disciplines is being realized. For example, the museum is pioneering a project first developed in South Africa where African beadwork is utilized in the instruction of algebra and geometry. With a dedicated gallery for the museum’s African Collection, the museum can help expand STEM to STEAM education, while stimulating dialogues across disciplines.

To enhance and improve the museum’s educational goals and offerings to the community, including expanding children’s programming, and inspiring lifelong learning, renovations have begun on the original galleries. The makeover, which will be completed in April 2016, creates a much-needed learning center space for classes, workshops, visiting artist lectures and public outreach, as well as a visitor service area for storing personal items.

CSU_StateYourPurposeSolid_RGB_357Many galleries within the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art are named with generous financial investments from art supporters, and naming opportunities for other areas in the museum remain. Find out how you can support the visual arts at CSU.