The Westmoreland Museum of American Art has announced recent gift of an extensive collection of American sculpture given by long-time supporter Dr. Michael Nieland. Featured in the collection are 55 works by 35 American sculptors, including notable artists such as Hiram Powers (1805-1873), Isidore Konti (1862-1938), Frederick William MacMonnies (1863–1937) and Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880-1980). All of the sculptures are figurative in nature and depict the human form. Most of the pieces are bronze, but other media are represented, including marble, wood, porcelain, plaster and terra-cotta. The collection spans the late 19th century to the early 20th century.
Dr. Nieland says of his decision to gift the works to Museum, “The Westmoreland with its devotion to American art is a perfect fit for this collection. The addition of these works to the Museum’s current sculpture collection will make the Museum stand out among American art institutions as having, quite possibly, one of the most comprehensive collections of sculpture from this time period.” Additionally, Dr. Nieland indicated that he desired to share these beautiful works with a larger audience and to have the public become more acquainted with the sculptors, some well-known and others lesser-known, behind the works – all of whom are important in terms of shaping the American sculpture landscape. Dr. Nieland considers Descending Night (pictured above) and its companion piece Rising Day by Adolf Weinman as two signature pieces in the collection. An encounter years ago with a similar cast of Descending Night, while visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was one of Dr. Nieland’s inspirations for beginning to collect figurative sculpture. Playdays by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth was the first work he acquired, and his collection has grown to the now 55 works over the past two decades.
The Westmoreland’s Director and CEO Judith O’Toole appreciatively remarks, “This collection of sculpture has been carefully selected over a period of years with a dedicated focus aligned to curatorial vision on the part of Dr. Nieland. The works will add significant depth to our current sculpture collection by broadening the artists represented and increasing the number of works by some well-known artists. With works ranging from six to nearly 60 inches in height, this stunning collection will give us density and diversity in the arena of American figurative sculpture. We are deeply grateful for this important gift."
A special exhibition planned for Fall 2017 will showcase many, if not all, of the works, and until then, several pieces will be incorporated into the permanent collection, which will be on view when The Westmoreland reopens in September 2015 at its downtown Greensburg location after a two-year renovation and expansion project. In addition to this transformational gift of sculpture, Dr. Nieland is also gifting a collection of American medallic art to the Museum, and a portion of the Museum’s renovated gallery spaces will be named in honor of Dr. Nieland in recognition of his generous donation to The Westmoreland’s current Imagine What’s Possible capital and endowment campaign.
An illustrated list of the works in the collection is available by clicking on the following link: http://www.wmuseumaa.org/Dr._Michael_Nieland_American_Sculpture_Collection_Works_List.pdf