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Hope's Permanent art collection contains more than 1000 objects including
“ Marine (Return from Fishing)” 19th century Hendrick Willem Mesdag
(currently on display at the Holland Museum)

A Place to Shine

Spanning centuries and reflecting traditions from around the world, the college’s permanent art collection is a gem that has wanted only a home and some attention to shine as a truly magnificent educational resource.

That opportunity is at hand. Hope is making plans for a new art museum that will house and provide exhibition space for the Permanent Collection, as well as dedicated curatorial support to help care for the collection and further develop it as a teaching tool.
A strong appreciation for the importance of art has led Dr. Richard Kruizenga ’52 and Margaret Feldmann ’52 Kruizenga to provide a leadership gift for a new art museum and related curatorial and programmatic support to help enhance the educational value of the college’s Permanent Collection. With more than 1,000 objects, and encompassing centuries and traditions from around the world, the collection is a significant teaching resource with potential greater than the college’s current facilities and staffing levels have been able to realize.

The facility is to be named in recognition of a leadership gift from Richard ’52 and Margaret Feldmann ’52 Kruizenga of Irving, Texas. Pending successful completion of fund-raising, construction could begin during the coming school year, with the museum ready to open in time for the start of classes in the fall of 2012.

“This is an exciting project,” said Steve Nelson, associate professor of art and chairperson of the department. “We’re anticipating a process that will benefit the students and the community.”

“A permanent display facility will allow us to select meaningfully from the collection and create displays that have greater educational and exhibit potential,” he said.

The total goal for the museum is $4,375,000, which includes construction costs of just over $3 million and a maintenance endowment of over $1 mllion, with $1.8 million left to raise. Several alumni and friends of the college have already contributed to the project, with fundraising on-going. The Kruizengas’ gift includes not only support for the construction of the museum, but endowments for its exhibition program, a new curator for the collection and the endowment of a professorship in the department of art, which are all over and above the total museum goal.

The Kruizengas didn’t major in art at Hope. Dr. Richard Kruizenga studied economics and business, and went on to a career with Exxon, from which he is now retired. Margaret majored in sociology, later teaching at the college level. Across their lives, however, they grew to appreciate the importance of art tremendously.

“We developed an interest in art along the way, both Margaret and I, and we were fortunate to live around the world a bit and were exposed to art in all kinds of places,” Dr. Kruizenga said.

Dr. Kruizenga became very actively involved in the life of the college as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1984 to 1996. He came to appreciate the quality of Hope’s art program, and the proposed museum brought together all of his and Margaret’s interests in a way they wanted to support.

“When we heard that the college was thinking of something like an art museum, it struck a chord,” he said. “We’ve been waiting to do something for the college for some time, and it sort of clicked.”

The museum will be constructed on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street, between the De Pree Art Center and the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication on land Campus Scene currently occupied by a parking lot and a student-housing cottage. The design is still being finalized, but the preliminary site plan calls for an extensive plaza and green space linking and between the three buildings.

The architect for the project is Matt Vander Borgh ’84, who as a graduate with an art major is well familiar with the locale, department and collection. Now living in The Hague in the Netherlands and internationally acclaimed, Vander Borgh is the director of C Concept Design, which has developed projects in 19 countries on four continents.

The museum will complement the De Pree Art Center, which opened in 1982 in the former Sligh furniture factory. De Pree contains a major gallery for temporary exhibitions, studios for painting, drawing, print-making, silkscreen/lithography, photography, ceramics and sculpture, and classroom space. What it simply cannot do, however, is make the most of the college’s collection of historic and significant works which, from an educational standpoint, is priceless.

“A gallery and a museum are distinct,” Professor Nelson said. “Galleries can display work without creating a context. Museums always create a larger narrative to best communicate to the audience. They’re creating stories that give the bigger picture.”

“A museum creates a context for looking at art work,” he said. “When we look at a work of art, we don’t look at it in isolation. We look at it in context, and from there we look at larger patterns of human behavior and cultural significance.”

“Marble Portrait Bust of
Mathilde Bonaparte,
Princess Anatole Demidoff”
Hiram Powers
(displayed at Van Wylen Library)
Porcelain Vase with
Flowering Decorations
20th Century
Imaizumi Imaemon XIII

The Permanent Collection contains more than 1,000 objects, and encompasses centuries and traditions from around the world. The works range from Renaissance-era prints, to contemporary and historic Japanese ceramics, to Native American baskets and quilts. There’s a seascape by 19th-century Dutch artist Hendrik Willem Mesdag, a lithograph by Salvador Dali, a bas-relief portrait by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and a panel by Nigerian woodcarver Lamidi Olonade Fakeye. Many pieces have been generously donated by alumni and friends of the college. Hope has purchased others specifically for the collection.

Despite the lack of dedicated space, the collection hasn’t exactly lain fallow. Selected works have been displayed around campus for years, adorning hallways, lounges and offices in all of the college’s major academic and administrative buildings as well as the grounds. Hope has periodically mounted exhibitions featuring portions of the collection, including a major retrospective in 2004. The Mesdag painting is currently on loan to the Holland Museum, part of an exhibition of works by Dutch artists.

The college’s students have also been working with materials in the collection or shared with Hope for decades. During 2008-09 the department even structured a class around a set of etchings and engravings collected by Dr. Richard Wunder and made available by Dr. Maurice Kawashima, giving an entire team of students a chance to work together in researching, writing, sharing their scholarship during a symposium and creating an exhibit. It’s the sort of unique and focused opportunity that the museum will further facilitate, even as it is contributing to campus and community culture and education in a broader way.

Junior Nicole Buccella of Belmont, Mich., has been student registrar for the gallery for the past two years. In addition to working with exhibitions in De Pree, she connects with the Permanent Collection in a variety of ways—from cataloging, to working with Hope departments to place works around campus, to responding to inquiries from outside researchers, to helping coordinate the recent restoration of the presidential portraits in Graves Hall.

It’s work that she credits with helping land her an internship at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and which she also feels will serve her well in the future. Her current goal is to pursue library science to work in an art library or college/university library, hoping to continue researching and to work with students herself.

“Overall, working with the collection has made me much more knowledgeable and comfortable with the workings of the art industry,” she said. “I can learn how to research art and how to make art in class, but at work I can apply it, learn to coordinate with other people and see the big picture.”

This article, written by Greg Olgers '87, was originally featured in the June 2010 issue of News from Hope College.

Bringing the college’s new Kruizenga Art Museum from vision to fruition is a team effort, beginning with the generosity of the building’s donors and drawing heavily on the talents of Matt VanderBorgh ’84 and Donald Battjes ’68, art alumni whose career paths have led them to unique roles in shaping the facility. Learn more by reading Building Hope on Experience which was included in the April 2011 issue of News from Hope College.