Campus & Community

Harvard Art Museum receives major gift from Emily Rauh Pulitzer

8 min read

Includes important works of art by Picasso, Miró, Brancusi, Nauman, Serra, and Tuttle Gift builds on more than 50-year involvement of Emily and Joseph Pulitzer Jr. with the Art Museum and Harvard

Harvard University today (Oct. 17) announced that the Harvard Art Museum has received a gift of 31 major works of modern and contemporary art and $45 million from Harvard alumna Emily Rauh Pulitzer, a former Harvard Art Museum curator, longtime supporter and friend of the museum and of Harvard, and wife of the late Joseph Pulitzer Jr. The modern works include important paintings and sculptures by Brancusi, Derain, Giacometti, Lipchitz, Miró, Modigliani, Picasso, Rosso, and Vuillard. The contemporary art includes major works by di Suvero, Heizer, Judd, Lichtenstein, Nauman, Newman, Oldenburg, Serra, Shapiro, and Tuttle. This gift represents one of the most significant donations of works of art ever received by the museum. The financial gift is the single largest donation in the history of the Harvard Art Museum.

The Art Museum concurrently announced previous gifts of 43 other modern and contemporary works (both outright and partial gifts) from Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer Jr., and Mr. Pulitzer and his first wife, Louise (who died in 1968). These gifts were made between 1953 and 2005 and were never formally announced as donations to the Art Museum, and included paintings by Braque, Cézanne, Miró, Monet, Picasso, and Stella, and works on paper by Cézanne, Degas, and Delaunay. In addition, the Pulitzers have provided financial support over the years that helped the Art Museum to purchase 92 works of art, including paintings by Baselitz, Braque, and Mondrian, works on paper by Ellsworth Kelly, LeWitt, Marden, Serra, David Smith, and Twombly, and an important collection of Indian paintings on paper. The Pulitzers’ sustained history of donations to build the collection at the Harvard Art Museum and their wide-ranging support of the institution have played a significant role in enhancing the University’s commitment to the study and appreciation of the visual arts.

Mrs. Pulitzer’s gifts come at a time when the Art Museum has launched a major initiative that will enable it to better advance its mission as a leading center for research and teaching in the visual arts. A central component of the plan is an increasing integration of the museum’s collections and programs into the academic life of the entire University. The Art Museum, working with architect Renzo Piano, has embarked on an extensive renovation and expansion of its historic facilities at 32 Quincy St. in Cambridge. The new design will allow a far more effective presentation of the collections and exhibitions of the three museums that compose the Harvard Art Museum – the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum – in new exhibition galleries and study centers and will greatly enhance the museum’s research and education facilities.

“The Harvard Art Museum’s distinguished collections and dedication to teaching and research in the arts have had a significant impact on the field, on scholarship, and on my own life,” noted Mrs. Pulitzer. “Both Joe and I have supported the Art Museum over the years in recognition of Harvard’s unparalleled role in the development of professionals in the arts worldwide and because of our belief that the arts are a cornerstone in learning and education in all fields. My gift is also a way of thanking Harvard for the enrichment of my life and the defining role that art has played for me. The Harvard Art Museum’s new project will expand the ways that art advances education even further and I am very proud to support the museum as it moves forward.”

“I am especially grateful for this remarkable gift because it is the continuation of a lifetime of giving of art, financial support, and time to the Art Museum and Harvard by Emmy and Joe,” said Drew Faust, president of Harvard University and Lincoln Professor of History. “The arts are central to the academic life of Harvard University. Emmy’s generosity will help ensure that they play an even more robust role on campus and in the lives of all our students, whether they are studying the arts, economics, law, medicine, physics, or other disciplines.”

“Emmy has been the Art Museum’s most active and dedicated benefactor, and her and Joe’s long-term, substantive support has enriched the experience of countless students, researchers, and visitors,” noted Thomas W. Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museum. “This current gift provides tremendous new strength in the museum’s holdings of modern and contemporary art. Emmy and Joe’s personal involvement and profound generosity stand as a model of institution-building and will advance scholarship in the visual arts for generations to come.”

Mrs. Pulitzer’s formal involvement with the Art Museum began in 1957 when she served as assistant curator of drawings — working under the legendary curator Agnes Mongan — a position Mrs. Pulitzer held until 1964. She received her master’s degree in the arts from Harvard in 1963 and has served in numerous leadership roles at the Art Museum and at Harvard, including as a chair and member of the Art Museum’s Visiting Committee and Collections Committee, beginning in the early 1990s. She also serves on the University’s Board of Overseers and is a member of its Standing Committee on Humanities and Arts, as well as the President’s Advisory Committee on the Allston Initiative.

Mr. Pulitzer was a member of the Harvard College Class of 1936 and, like his wife, filled many leadership positions at the Art Museum and the University, including:

• Member, Board of Overseers, 1976-1982

• Member, Visiting Committee, Art Museum, 1971-1993, and vice chair, 1976-1983

• Member, Visiting Committee, Fine Arts Department, 1949-1971 and 1976-1982, and chair, 1976-1982.

In addition to their other support of the University, Mr. Pulitzer provided a gift to endow the Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. Professorship of Modern Art in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which was activated with the appointment of Yve-Alain Bois in 1991. Mr. Pulitzer served as the editor and publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and chairman of the Pulitzer Publishing Company for 38 years. He also served as chairman of the Pulitzer Prize Board from 1955 through 1986.

Mr. Pulitzer’s support of the Art Museum was both far-ranging and farsighted, beginning in 1939 when he anonymously pledged $6,000 — $2,000 a year — for a Fogg Museum Fellowship in Modern Art for postgraduate study abroad. The fellowship was administered by a small committee that included Edward Forbes, Paul Sachs, Alfred Barr, and eventually Meyer Schapiro. Fellowships were granted over the next three years to Francis Catlin, Milton Brown, and John McAndrew, all of whom became distinguished art historians. In 1958, Mr. Pulitzer anonymously established a fund for the acquisition of modern art, which enabled the Art Museum to acquire a major Mondrian drawing and a painting by Jackson Pollock. In 1976, for his 40th reunion, Mr. Pulitzer established a named endowment, the Joseph Pulitzer Jr. AB ’36 Beneficiary Aid Fund, which continues to this day to support research travel for undergraduate art history concentrators.

Emily Rauh Pulitzer and her late husband Joseph Pulitzer Jr. have been prominent supporters of the arts and built one of the country’s premier private art collections. The Pulitzers have made generous gifts to many organizations and institutions, especially those in St. Louis, the city in which they have deep roots and commitments. These include gifts of works of art and a leadership gift to the capital campaign of the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Grand Center, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and Washington University.

Owing to the Pulitzers’ commitment to St. Louis and to further strengthen the experience of the arts, Mrs. Pulitzer founded The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in a developing neighborhood. It opened in St. Louis in 2001 in a building designed by architect Tadao Ando. Through art exhibitions, programs, collaborations, and exchanges with other institutions — including the Harvard Art Museum — the Pulitzer Foundation aims to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of art and architecture and is a resource for artists, architects, scholars, students, and the general public.

About the Harvard Art Museum

The Harvard Art Museum is one of the world’s leading arts institutions, comprised of three museums (Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum) and four research centers (Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, Harvard Art Museum Archives, Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, Turkey). The Harvard Art Museum is distinguished by the range and depth of its collections, its groundbreaking exhibitions, and the original research of its staff. As an integral part of Harvard and the community, the three art museums and four research centers serve as resources for students, scholars, and visitors. For more than a century, the Harvard Art Museum has been the nation’s premier training ground for museum professionals and scholars and is renowned for its seminal role in the development of the discipline of art history in this country.