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University of Michigan Museum of Art to Receive Major Art Donation; Part of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, a National Gift Program of Contemporary Art

New Museum of Art UM

Yinka Shonibare (British, born 1962)
Doll House (Peter Norton Family Christmas Project)
Miniature English Victorian townhouse, with furnishings; in cast resin, plastic, wood, paper, and fabric
UMMA, The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, a joint initiative of the Trustees of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection and the National Gallery of Art, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, 2002/1.236A-W

ANN ARBOR, Mich—The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) has been selected to receive a gift of fifty works of art from New York collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, with the help of the National Gallery of Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The gifts are part of a national gifts program entitled The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States. It will distribute 2,500 works from the Vogels’ collection of contemporary art throughout the nation, with fifty works going to a selected art institution in each of the fifty states. Artists whose work is being donated to UMMA include Will Barnet, Robert Barry, Lynda Benglis, Charles Clough, Claudia DeMonte, Richard Francisco, Michael Goldberg, Don Hazlitt, Jene Highstein, Peter Hutchinson, Martin Johnson, Steve Keister, Mark Kostabi, Ronnie Landfield, Jill Levine, Robert Lobe, Michael Lucero, Joseph Nechvatal, Robert Nonas, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Yinka Shonibare, Daryl Trivieri, and Richard Tuttle, whose work is especially well represented in the gift.

“The University of Michigan Museum of Art is thrilled to have been selected as Michigan’s representative institution to receive works of art from such visionary collectors,” said UMMA Director James Steward. “This gift is a dynamic complement to our renewed focus on contemporary art, including the launch of a new signature exhibition series to be known as UMMA Projects with our reopening in the spring.”

The best-known aspects of the Vogel Collection are minimal and conceptual art, but these donations also explore numerous directions of the post-minimalist period, including works of a figurative and expressionist nature. Primarily a collection of drawings, the 2,500 works the Vogels are donating also include paintings, sculptures, photographs, and prints by more than 170 contemporary artists, mainly working in the United States. (The complete list of museums is available at

The National Endowment for the Arts is funding the publication of a book, The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, scheduled for release in November 2008. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is providing funds for the disbursal of the art (under the supervision of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC) to the fifty institutions and for the development of a website to serve as both an information center and exhibition area for this project.

The Vogels and Their Collection

The Vogel Collection has been characterized as unique among collections of contemporary art, both for the character and breadth of the objects and for the individuals who created it. Herbert Vogel (b. 1922) spent most of his working life as an employee of the United States Postal Service, and Dorothy Vogel (b. 1935) was a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. Setting their collecting priorities above those of personal comfort, the couple used Dorothy’s salary to cover the expenses of daily life and devoted Herbert’s salary to the acquisition of contemporary art. With the exception of the collection formed by their friend, artist Sol LeWitt, no other known private collection of similar work in Europe or America rivals the range, complexity, and quality of the art the Vogels acquired.

As the first collectors to buy work by many artists who were then unknown to a wide audience, the Vogels offered encouragement at the start of the careers of several figures who went on to achieve considerable acclaim. Owing to these artists’ continuing close relationships with the collectors, many works of art collected by the Vogels were gifts marking special occasions—such as Dorothy and Herbert’s birthdays and wedding anniversary—and often personally inscribed. In this sense the Vogels’ collection is a keen reflection of their friendships with artists.

Artists’ use of drawing as a primary medium has expanded during the years in which the Vogel Collection has been formed, and interest in drawings on the part of contemporary collectors has expanded as well. However, when the Vogels began collecting in the early 1960s, their focus on drawing was an unusual one, suggesting another aspect of their prescience. Many drawings in the collection represent an artist’s initial form of an idea, and others act as plans to be followed by a collaborator in the making of a work of art. This emphasis on drawings adds to the unique and intimate nature of the Vogel Collection, making their gifts an important educational tool for museums. Another educational focus of the Vogels since 1980 has been their ongoing donation of artist-related records to the Archives of American Art, Washington, DC.

“We hope this will be a truly national program, and that it will make the work of the many artists we admire familiar to a wider audience. We also hope our gifts will enable museums throughout the country to represent a significant range of contemporary art,” said Dorothy Vogel on behalf of the couple. Inspired by the Kress Foundation’s placement of old master paintings throughout the United States in the middle of the last century, the Vogels hope that their project will, as a parallel effort, enhance knowledge of the art of our time.

The University of Michigan Museum of Art is one of the finest university art museums in the country with African, American, Asian, and European collections of more than 18,000 objects collected over the last 150 years. In spring 2009 UMMA will unveil a transformative $41.9 million expansion and restoration of its historic facility. The project—designed by Brad Cloepfil and his firm Allied Works Architecture—will more than double the original Museum; key features include dramatically expanded collections and exhibitions galleries, open storage galleries, state-of-the-art storage and conservation facilities, 225-seat auditorium, classrooms and event spaces to serve multiple audiences concurrently, expanded public programming, café and expanded Museum Store, and extended open hours.

Media Contact:
Stephanie Rieke