An Unfolding Legacy

Notable public art collection — with 100 percent donor support

By:
La Monica Everett-Haynes

The carefully arranged exhibits at the University of Arizona Museum of Art, evoking emotions both pleasant and moving, include works by noted artists Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol. The arrangements narrate artistic and sociopolitical histories from antiquity to the present day, creating one of the most important public art collections in the Southwest. 

“This incredible collection is one of the things that makes the University unique,” says Dennis Jones, director of the UAMA and the UA School of Art. 

An Unfolding Legacy, a year of exhibits commemorating the museum’s 90-year history, highlights the evolution of the UAMA. It includes a story of generous patronage that weaves through the entire collection of nearly 6,000 original works, a collection built entirely through private donations to the museum and the Archive of Visual Arts. 

“Not many museums have art budgets, but the contributions of our donors have given us this ability to continue on and grow. These contributions are a prime example of our heritage and of things done right,” says Jones. 

Private donations by C. Leonard Pfeiffer, Edward J. Gallagher Jr., the Kress Foundation, and the Jacques and Yulla Lipchitz Foundation are some of the many that have built the renowned UAMA collection. 

A recent gift is the Sara Wallach Collection, entrusted by the Wallach family after Sara’s passing in 2011. It contains archival documents and Wallach’s original plates, “which are works of art in their own right,” says Tucson-based award-winning architect and

UA alumnus Les Wallach ’67. He is one of Sara Wallach’s three sons, all of whom attended the UA. 

“It was a good fit, a very good fit,” Wallach says. “And the museum is such a major asset to the University and the public. The collection is staggering, and it makes the UA a center of art in the region.” 

An Unfolding Legacy: Selected Exhibitions

MARCH 14-JULY 4
Robert McCall’s Universe will feature the work of famed illustrator and conceptual artist Robert McCall. McCall was an artist and illustrator for NASA, national magazines, and films.

APRIL 25-AUG. 25
Fate and Fulfillment: Selections from the William Small Gift will feature important works of contemporary art donated by the former publisher of the Tucson Citizen, William Small. 

MAY 31-SEPT. 21
Gallagher Purchases Part I is the first in a two-part series highlighting the works the UAMA has acquired as a result of the endowment established by businessman Edward Gallagher Jr., one of the museum’s most significant donors. 

JULY 18-SEPT. 21
Designing Line and Space: The Art of Sara Wallach will showcase the work of artist Sara Wallach. The exhibition will also include a selection of Wallach’s written materials.