Most of us have gathered things we have an affinity for – sports memorabilia, fine wines, and even paperweights. I am not a fan of stuff, and yet I have a few collections of my own. However, I doubt anyone will want my childhood rock collection, which begs the question, “What to do with it?”
The New York Times published an article last month, “Aging Parents with Lots of Stuff, and Children Who Don’t Want It,” which highlighted the national trend of heirs not wanting their parent’s treasured belongings. That trend leaves plenty of people who are looking to downsize wondering what do to with their family heirlooms and collections. Although museums collect specific objects of exceptional quality or historical, cultural or scientific significance, one beneficiary of these future orphan objects could be museums.
Spurred on by a need highlighted two years ago by the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass held a symposium September 8-9, 2017 for collectors on the topic of leaving a legacy. Collectors from Florida to Washington State gathered to learn about gifting artwork to museums for the public benefit. On the surface, this may seem a self-serving event, however passing on art collections is following the national trend of younger generations owning fewer things.
“With the help of museum curators, gallery owners and art experts, we’re raising this discussion. What do people do with these objects and how can that benefit museums and our community?” said Jan Smith, executive director of Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass.
Topics covered by subject-matter experts included
Dr. William Ganis, “In Perpetuity”
Jan Smith and Dr. Jutta Page, “Building Museum Collections”
Corey Hampson, Habatat Gallery, “Museums and Gallery Roles”
James Yood “The State of Glass”.
Collector Stories: Collector Stories: Bonnie Marx, Carol Wiiken, David Huchthausen, and Dudley and Lisa Anderson
Attorney Roy Fine, “Legacy Gifts and Tax Implications”
Rick Conne and his wife, Judy, have been contemporary glass collectors for more than 30 years. They are at a point in life where they have considered what to do with that collection. While his three children appreciate the glass sculptures, each desires, at most, three objects.
Although the Connes are reluctant to divide their collection, the future of their glass comes down to how best they can make the art available to others for the benefit of everyone.
“I really feel I am doing some good by giving objects to museums, selling pieces for my own financial benefit, and selling to others who will appreciate the pieces,” said Rick.
The Connes are following a line of donors who have left a legacy by adding to the permanent collection at Bergstrom- Mahler Museum of Glass. From an original 1958 bequest of 652 weights from Evangeline Bergstrom, the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass Collection has grown to more than 4,000 objects ranging from ancient Mesopotamian glass beads to contemporary glass sculpture. Much of that growth is due to the generosity of individual donors.
Thanks to the following exhibit and symposium sponsors.