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DELAWARE ART MUSEUM ANNOUNCES $6.85 MILLION BEQUEST
Wilmington, DE (May 17, 2007)—The Delaware Art Museum is pleased to announce the largest cash bequest in the Museum’s history, as the Revocable Trust of Helen Farr Sloan has distributed $6,850,000 to the Museum. Helen Farr Sloan, patron of the arts, inspired educator, accomplished artist, and widow of renowned artist John Sloan, passed away on December 13, 2005, at the age of 94.
“We are thrilled and immensely gratified by Helen Farr Sloan’s remarkable bequest, which will replenish the Museum’s endowment and restore the confidence of the community,” said Danielle Rice, Executive Director of the Delaware Art Museum. “The announcement could not come at a better time as we prepare to launch our strategic program initiatives and wrap up our Capital Campaign.”
Over the past 50 years, Helen Farr Sloan (born February 24, 1911) quietly created a remarkable profile as an American philanthropist. Following the death of her husband John Sloan, one of the premier American artists of the 20th century, in 1951, Helen organized his estate and turned it into an exceptional philanthropic instrument to serve local, regional, national, and international arts constituencies.
Beginning in 1961, and continuing throughout her life, Helen Farr Sloan nurtured a special relationship with the Delaware Art Museum. Because of her gifts and scholarship, the Delaware Art Museum received more than 5,000 works, including the preeminent collection of John Sloan’s art, with virtually every aspect of his career represented. This has made the Delaware
Art Museum the leading repository for the study of John Sloan, who was noted for his realistic images of turn-of-the-century New York City.
In recent decades, Helen Farr Sloan provided critical financial support to numerous exhibitions, scholarly programs, and publications related to American art, including the transfer of all of the works of art owned by the John Sloan Memorial Foundation and most of the works owned by the Helen Farr Sloan Revocable Trust to the Delaware Art Museum in 1996. The Helen Farr Sloan bequest, which comes from the Helen Farr Sloan Revocable Trust, includes both cash and works of art that the Museum can use to further its mission, primarily for curatorial and educational purposes. Funds will be available for the research, development, and presentation of the Museum’s permanent collections as well as temporary and traveling exhibitions, with priority given to projects that further scholarship pertaining to John Sloan, his artistic circle known as “The Eight,” and the Museum’s related holdings. Funds can also be used for conservation and to support the salaries of curatorial and Library staff. The funds cannot, for the most part, be used for the purchase of art nor to support any future construction or renovation projects, such funds having been placed in a restricted fund pursuant to the terms of the trust. The Delaware Art Museum is the sole beneficiary of the Helen Farr Sloan Revocable Trust.
In honor of her many gifts and her dedicated service, the Delaware Art Museum re-named its library the Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives in 1985. More recently, the Museum also named a large gallery in its newly renovated building after her. In October, the Museum will present a major exhibition of John Sloan’s art, Seeing the City: Sloan’s New York. This traveling exhibition, organized by the Delaware Art Museum with a host of scholars and partner institutions, will focus on John Sloan’s images of New York City in paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs. It will be on display at the Delaware Art Museum from October 20, 2007, through January 20, 2008, before traveling to three other institutions. The comprehensive catalog for the exhibition, co-published by Yale University Press, is being dedicated to Helen Farr Sloan.
Far more than being one of Sloan’s acolytes, Helen Farr was instrumental in advancing the artist’s career. In 1932, she suggested that a book be published of Sloan’s comments about art, including his art instructions, philosophy, and technical directions based upon the notes she had taken in his classes at the Arts Students League as well as from the recollections of others of his students. Called The Gist of the Art, this book was published in 1939. Between 1933 and 1939,
Helen Farr worked at the King-Coit School, using her summers to organize Sloan’s teaching notes. She also worked in art therapy, using art classes to aid children with dyslexia. In the 1940s, Helen taught art at the Nightingale-Bamford School for Girls in New York.
While her marriage to Sloan lasted only seven years (1944-1951), Helen Farr Sloan’s devotion to art was a life-long commitment. After Sloan’s death, she returned to her teaching career and continued to paint. She also spent her remaining years focused on supporting research about her husband and American art history, and working on distributing his estate. The contents of his studio and his wide-ranging library became a treasure trove for philanthropic giving. The recipients of her largesse include the University of Delaware; the Sewell C. Biggs Museum in Dover, Delaware; the Smithsonian Institution; the National Gallery of Art; the Boston Film and Video Foundation; the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center; the Katonah Museum of Art in New York; and the New York Historical Society. Helen Farr Sloan’s own paintings are held in private and public collections, including the Delaware Art Museum and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
Founded in 1912, the Delaware Art Museum holds a world-renowned collection that focuses on American art and illustration from the 19th to the 21st century as well as the British pre-Raphaelite movement of the mid-19th century. The Museum offers the outdoor Copeland Sculpture Park, the Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, studio art classes, the interactive Kids’ Corner learning area, the delART Café featuring free Wi-Fi access, and the Museum Store with distinctive books and gifts.
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