Maryalice Cregg

creggMaryalice Cregg made a very special gift to the Delaware Art Museum: she included the Museum in her will. With her family’s permission, we’re sharing her story.

Maryalice nurtured a lifelong love of art by serving as a docent with the Delaware Art Museum for 15 years.

“She enjoyed a thirst for knowledge and enjoyed sharing that knowledge with others,” said Lial Jones, Director of the Crocker Art Museum, who worked with Maryalice at the Delaware Art Museum in the mid-1990s.

Maryalice contributed research to the docents’ files on art history, which was particularly valuable work in the days before Google, and put together presentations for her fellow docents on the Pre-Raphaelites and 19th-century portrayals of women. In a note to Lial, Maryalice described those research opportunities as “one of the most satisfying learning experiences for me, and one of the great benefits of being a Delaware Art Museum Docent.”

It surprised no one that Maryalice’s bequest was designated for the acquisition of works by female artists. Serendipitously, news of her bequest arrived just as the Museum’s Collection Committee was considering acquiring works of art by Nina Katchadourian.

Katchadourian’s 2012 exhibition at the Museum, titled Once Upon a Time in Delaware/In Quest of the Perfect Book, featured photographs of book groupings from the Museum’s Helen Farr Sloan Library’s M.G. Sawyer Collection of Decorative Bindings. The book titles, when grouped together, form sequences that can be read as stories or poems.

Known for her conceptual works of art that explore systems, structure, codes, language, and communication, Katchadourian is a contemporary American artist whose work has been exhibited around the world, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.

“Given the importance of this exhibition, the Museum purchased five photographs from the show and two works from an earlier book sorting to provide context for our installation. Nina is a significant female artist working today, and this acquisition will strengthen the Museum’s holdings of contemporary art,” said Margaret Winslow, the Museum’s Associate Curator for Contemporary Art.

Thanks to Maryalice’s bequest, the Museum was able to purchase these works.

All of us at the Delaware Art Museum wish we had had the opportunity to thank Maryalice for her bequest during her lifetime, but are pleased that we are able to honor her legacy with this important acquisition.