With an estimated value of more than $100 million, the so-called Lunder Collection comprises more than five hundred objects, including works by American masters such as John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Alex Katz, and Jenny Holzer, as well as two hundred prints by James McNeill Whistler, representing the largest single collection of art by Whistler ever given to an American academic museum. The collection, which was donated by long-time Colby supporters Peter and Paula Lunder, also includes more than one hundred and fifty books, journals, photographs, and archival materials related to Whistler, which — along with the artworks — will be available to students, researchers, and museum visitors. In 2013, the museum will open a new wing with galleries dedicated to the permanent display of works from the collection.
In addition to American art, the Lunders are donating forty important works of early Chinese ritual and mortuary art dating from the prehistoric period to the Jin Dynasty (1126-1234), rounding out the museum's existing holdings of Chinese ceramics.
Peter Lunder, a Colby College alumnus (class of 1956), is a life overseer of the college, while Paula Lunder is a life trustee. The couple, both of whom have served on the museum's board of governors since 1995, made the lead gift to the museum's Lunder Wing and endowed the Lunder Curator of American Art. Peter Lunder also serves as vice chairman of the Smithsonian Institution's national board.
"This superb gift will enrich the Colby College Museum of Art in numerous ways, placing it among the nation's best museums for the exhibition and study of American art," said Colby College president William D. Adams. "The students who use the...museum on a daily basis — not only for art or art history, but as a resource in numerous fields, from history to science — will now have access to a vastly enlarged and more diverse collection of works."