Information from the museum, 25 January 2017
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Ackland Art Museum has received its largest gift ever, donated from alumnus Sheldon Peck and his wife Leena – valued at $25 million. The unprecedented commitment includes an $8 million endowment to support a new curator and future acquisitions and an art gift of 134 primarily 17th-century European masterworks, valued at $17 million, including seven works by Rembrandt van Rijn.
The masterworks are a major collection of Dutch and Flemish drawings built by the Pecks over the last four decades. Along with the Rembrandts, the collection includes nearly 100 17th-century Dutch landscape, genre and figural compositions by artists such as Aelbert Cuyp, Jan van Goyen and Jacob van Ruisdael, as well as a dozen 17th-century Flemish drawings by masters like Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordaens and Paul Bril. A group of 15 18th- and 19th-century Dutch drawings is also part of the collection.
One of the Rembrandt drawings in the collection bears an inscription in the artist’s own handwriting, which until this donation was the last known drawing with such an inscription remaining in private hands.
With the Peck Collection gift, the Ackland becomes the first public university art museum in the United States to own a collection of drawings by Rembrandt and only the second university art museum in the nation to do so.
The Pecks’ gift includes the Peck Collection Endowment Fund and the Sheldon Peck Curatorship Fund, dedicated to the care and enhancement of the Peck Collection, including conservation, digitization and cataloging, as well as funds for the acquisition of other European and American masterworks created before 1950. The endowment will also enable the Ackland to create and support a new position at the museum: the Sheldon Peck curator of European and American art and curator of the Peck Collection. This is the Ackland’s first full-time endowed position.