Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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Oct. 17, 1943 – The Fogg Museum announces that Grenville Lindall Winthrop, Class of 1886, LLB 1889, has left Harvard “the most valuable and comprehensive art collection ever given to an American university”: more than 4,000 works ranging from venerable Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Mayan, and Peruvian artifacts to American, Dutch, English, Flemish, French, and Italian works in many media. The gift also includes more than 5,000 books. The materials arrive at the Fogg (summer of 1943) from Winthrop’s houses in New York City and Lenox, Mass.

The bequest makes the Fogg “one of the richest, certainly one of the most important, museums in the country,” declares “The Art Digest.” “Newsweek” finds “not a single dud.” Among Fogg officials, the huge bequest inspires visions of a major space crisis after the war, when many treasures (including some from Winthrop) will return from off-site safekeeping.

By early 1944, nine galleries are completely rearranged to display selections from the bequest, thereby providing the public access that Winthrop’s will requires (and which is already a well-established general policy at the Fogg). The Museum also opens a study room for the collection’s 400-plus 19th-century drawings and watercolors. The Fogg Courtyard temporarily displays some of the Buddhist sculpture.

– From the Harvard Historical Calendar, a database compiled by Marvin Hightower