The Clark and Williams College Receive Estates of Elizabeth and Morris Burrows
For Immediate Release
August 13, 2004
$8.4 million gift to Clark to fund galleries in white marble building; $4.7 million for Williams will support faculty salaries.
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA (August 13, 2004) - The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and Williams College have each received a major gift from the estates of Elizabeth H. and H. Morris Burrows. Both institutions receive funds from the dispersal of trusts as directed by Mr. Burrows; in addition the Clark receives funds from Mrs. Burrows's personal estate, including trust, real estate, and the contents of her home. The $8.4 million monetary gift to the Clark is its largest private donation since the founding of the Institute by Sterling and Francine Clark in 1955. The gift to the Clark is principally designated by the donor to fund an addition of new galleries at the institute, including those planned in the original, white marble building, as part of the Clark's building expansion and campus enhancement. Williams will receive $4.7 million in support of the H. Morris Burrows '31 Memorial Fund, an endowment providing perpetual support for faculty salaries.
The Clark received the Burrows collection of American silver, as announced in 2000. The silver, now valued at approximately $4.8 million, has been on loan to the Clark since 1975.
"We are thrilled by the remarkable generosity of Libby Burrows and her husband Morris," said Michael Conforti, director of the Clark. "The Clark is exceedingly grateful for their legacy and their engagement with our mission. Their commitment began with the loan of their silver. In my visits with her in recent years, Libby often expressed her enthusiasm about our special mission as both an art museum and a center for research and higher education. This extraordinary level of support testifies to their belief not only in what the Clark does for the community but also in what it contributes to the understanding of the visual arts. They specifically wanted to fund expansion of our galleries as well as the continued care and enhancement of their wonderful collection."
Williams President Morton Owen Schapiro stated, "We are delighted and humbled by the Burrows family's generosity. This gift spans several generations in their relationships with Williams, and their contribution will support the people at the heart of the Williams enterprise-our faculty-generations into the future."
Henry Morris Burrows graduated from Williams in the class of 1931. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and worked for many years as a machinist with the Fellows Gear Shaper Company in Springfield, Vt. An authority and collector of early automobiles, Mr. Burrows served as a trustee of the Museum of Transportation in Boston. His first wife died in 1961. He married Elizabeth (Hiscox) Burrows, herself a widow, in 1972. A graduate of Vassar, Mrs. Burrows shared his interest in American silver. Mr. Burrows was avidly interested in the technical aspects of silver making and read widely on the subject, while Mrs. Burrows kept detailed records of their collection.
The couple often passed through Williamstown en route between their apartment in Summit, N.J., and their country home in Springfield, Vt. Much beloved by the staff at the Clark, the Burrowses made frequent visits to the Clark in the 1970s and 1980s during which they together polished the silver from their collection.
"While their stated desire was to spare the staff this troublesome chore, the opportunity to become reacquainted with each piece was clearly the primary motivation," noted Beth Carver Wees, the longtime curator of decorative arts at the Clark who is now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mr. Burrows died in 1988. Mrs. Burrows continued her involvement with the Clark, supporting such initiatives as the purchase of early photographs and the Clark Fellows program. She died in 2003.
The Burrows funds will be devoted to aspects of the Clark's expansion and campus enhancement related to the original 1955 white marble building. Designed by the late Daniel Perry under founder Sterling Clark's close supervision, the building is a neo-classical "temple of art," with intimate galleries. Portions of the white marble building will be renovated to provide an additional 6,380 square feet of new galleries for the Clark's growing permanent collection, an increase of 40 percent over the existing facilities. The galleries will provide much needed space for the Burrows collection as well as 19th-century American paintings, including works by Homer, Sargent, and Remington collected by Sterling and Francine Clark, and recently acquired collections of American furniture and glass. The three galleries built to the west of the Clark's Impressionist gallery will mirror the interior architecture and décor of the existing galleries. These new galleries will be created by reclaiming spaces that are currently used for storage, offices, and service equipment and by a 3,000-square-foot, two-story addition to the south.
In addition, Pritzker-Prize winning architect Tadao Ando has designed a 2,700-square-foot transparent glass foyer, which will serve as a new west entrance to the 1955 building. The new Ando addition complements the original structure, while its scale will create a sense of grandeur in keeping with the original building's style.
The Burrows collection of American silver encompasses a wide range of American silver from the Colonial and Federal periods representing all major centers of silver production. Begun by the Burrows more than 60 years ago it now includes 360 works. Among the highlights is a pair of neo-classical sauce tureens, made in 1817 by Baltimore silversmith Andrew Ellicott Warner, and a group of silver by American patriot Paul Revere Jr., including a sugar bowl, pap boat, ladle, and other objects. Noted silversmiths Myer Myers, Jacob Hurd, William Simpkins, and Joseph Richardson Sr. are also represented. The Burrows silver collection was featured in the 2000 special exhibition, "A Fresh and Large Assortment": American Silver from the Burrows Collection.