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Paper Treasures: Gifts from Alumni

Like all university museums, the Johnson Museum’s collection has been slowly but steadily built by gifts generously given by Cornell’s alumni and friends. In the area of prints, drawings, and photographs, we have been particularly fortunate. In fact, an initial gift to this collection, from William P. Chapman, Class of 1895, numbered over three thousand works on paper, and included prints by Dürer, Rembrandt, and Whistler, pictorialist photographs by Alfred Stieglitz and Alvin Langdon Coburn, and ukiyo-e woodcuts by Hiroshige and Hokusai. Given before Cornell had a museum to house them, the possession of this stellar collection of works led to the establishment of the first museum on campus, in the A. D. White House.

Since then, the Johnson Museum has grown exponentially, thanks to the interest and support of Cornell’s many graduates. Today the Museum houses over twenty-two thousand works on paper, and this collection is used extensively to teach classes across the disciplines. As can be seen by the examples on view here, given by members of this year’s Reunion classes, it is a collection rich in quality, diversity, and technique. The legacy of these gifts is the assurance that future generations of Cornell students will come to the Museum and learn from the objects themselves, an intimate, firsthand encounter with the artist’s creative impulse. This is an experience that no reproduction in a book, image on a screen, or picture on the Internet can ever replicate.

As caretakers of these works, we are deeply grateful to the alumni who have made this experience possible.

Nancy E. Green
The Gale and Ira Drukier Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs