Your Name Doesn’t Have to Be de Medici to Be a Patron of the Arts
We’re going to ask you to dig way back to remember your History of Western Civilization lesson on the Renaissance. Do you recall the name de Medici? Cosimo and Lorenzo? Yeah, right, those Italian guys in funny hats and robes dubbed by historians as Patrons of the Arts.
Without their funding of artists, philosophers, and scientists like Donatello, Brunelleschi, DaVinci, Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo, our world would be rather drab. Obviously, civilization has progressed since the Renaissance, humans continue to create, and Patrons of the Arts are still needed. What has changed is that you do not need to have the means of de Medici to consider yourself a Patron of the Arts. All you need to do is shop.
Admission to Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass is free for everyone, and yet, operating a museum has costs. To provide significant and increasing financial support for the museum’s ongoing operations, The Museum Shop was organized in 1976 by the volunteer “Friends” organization of museum supporters, patrons themselves. Shop revenues have grown to fund nearly 30% of annual operations. That means there are many art patrons among you who have discovered the uniqueness of this space, and we are grateful.
For most of us, the most skillful maneuver we can accomplish with glass is to raise one to our mouths. When you shop at The Museum Shop, you are preserving magical and ancient techniques of glass making that contemporary artists employ to make objects for sale. For many of the artists, this production work enables them to make a living while they work on more creative pursuits.
If you have been to the museum recently, you have probably seen the colorful and whimsical installation of Ricky Bernstein’s “Betty’s Big Night.” Ricky and his wife, Elizabeth Cary, also operate Penrose Art Glass in Massachusetts, where they make lovely glass jewelry, which is for sale in The Museum Shop. Although many of us are unlikely to purchase a large installation like Betty, we can bring Ricky’s humor and creativity to all who visit the museum in a small way by purchasing Penrose jewelry.
Your patronage of The Museum Shop supports nearly 200 artists’ businesses across the globe. The Museum Shop Manager, Laureen Endter, and veteran museum volunteer, Liane Butitta, have long-standing relationships with many of the artists represented in the shop. They buy directly from the artist’s studios and oftentimes, the inventory is hand-delivered by artists themselves.
These artists deliver affordable art accessible to nearly everyone. Sure, the shop sells collector-quality objects from internationally recognized artists for several thousand dollars, but there is also glass art you can purchase for just a few greenbacks. Most of the objects for sale range from $25-50, which means you can purchase and gift art despite not being named Rockefeller. This holiday season, being a Patron of the Arts is as simple as taking a trip to Neenah.