Published: December 22, 2015
NEW YORK CITY — The Wunsch Americana Foundation has named Morrison H. Heckscher and Peter M. Kenny the winners of its 2016 Eric M. Wunsch Award for Excellence in the American Arts. The foundation will honor the men at an Americana Week reception planned for Wednesday, January 20, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters.
“It is an honor to know these two accomplished scholars and leaders in the field. They consistently delivered the best of the best for the Met with grace and academic rigor,” said Wunsch Americana Foundation president Peter Wunsch.
Wunsch noted, “Morrie and Peter have been intimately involved with the foundation and were present in January 2014 when we announced that masterpieces from our collection would go on display at the Met. We are talking about two distinct individuals whose careers have been intertwined. Morrie makes me sit up straight in my chair. He is a dean of the field. Peter commands enormous respect and is highly regarded for his influential role on many boards.”
Heckscher and Kenny are recognized for their contributions to the expansion and modernization of the Met’s American Wing between 2003 to 2012, Wunsch observed. The renovation entailed the modernization of the existing building, comprising the original 1924 structure and its 1980 expansion, a project that added galleries for American paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. The curators acquired architectural elements for the new American Wing, continuing the museum’s history of collecting interiors.
Morrison Heckscher retired in 2014 as the Lawrence A. Fleischman chairman of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he worked for more than three decades. He started in the Met’s prints and drawings department in 1966 and joined the staff of the American Wing as an assistant curator two years later. His exhibition credits include “An Architect and His Client: Frank Lloyd Wright and Francis W. Little,” 1973; “The Architecture of Richard Morris Hunt,” 1986; “American Rococo: Elegance in Ornament, 1750–1775,” 1992; “The Architecture of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996; “American Furniture and the Art of Connoisseurship,” 1998; and “John Townsend, Newport Cabinetmaker,” 2005.
Among his many publications are American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Late Colonial Period — Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles, which won the Charles F. Montgomery Award of the Decorative Arts Society; John Townsend, Newport Cabinetmaker; and Creating Central Park. Heckscher filled leadership roles at the New York Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Society of Winterthur Fellows, Winterthur Museum, Samuel F.B. Morse Historic Site, Scenic Hudson, Inc and Strawbery Banke.
Peter Kenny is co-president of Classical American Homes Preservation Trust and a leading authority on American furniture of the Federal and Classical eras. Prior to 2015, he was the Ruth Bigelow Wriston curator of American Arts and administrator of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kenny is a noted lecturer and the author of several award-winning books on American furniture, including, most recently, Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York and Honoré Lannuier, Cabinetmaker from Paris: The Life and Work of a French Ébéniste in Federal New York. Kenny serves on the boards of Chipstone Foundation, Boscobel Restorations, the Decorative Arts Trust and the Classical Institute of the South.
The January 20 program will also acknowledge the contributions of the late Christie’s executive Dean F. Failey, who died in May 2015, and preview new foundation initiatives, including recent loans to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Founded in 1946 and based in New York City, the Wunsch Americana Foundation encourages fellowship among collectors, dealers and curators and supports preservation and education initiatives in the American arts. The foundation manages lending, sharing and giving relationships with institutions throughout the United States. The late Martin Wunsch, a prominent collector of American furniture and Old Masters paintings, articulated the direction of the foundation, now overseen by Peter Wunsch and his sons, Eric and Noah.
Past recipients of the Eric M. Wunsch Award are Patricia E. Kane, Linda H. Kaufman and the late George M. Kaufman, Richard H. Jenrette, Chipstone Foundation and Arnold Lehman.
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