Published: November 20, 2007
President George W. Bush announced on November 14 that Roy R. Neuberger, 104, one of America’s foremost art patrons and philanthropists and founder of the Neuberger Museum of Art, has won the 2007 National Medal of Arts. The president presented the award on Thursday, November 15, in an East Room ceremony. The president was joined by First Lady Laura Bush, Lynne Cheney, Dana Gioia, chairperson, National Endowment for the Arts, and Dr Bruce Cole, chairperson, National Endowment for the Humanities.
“The award is the long overdue national recognition and celebration of Neuberger Museum of Art’s founding patron Roy R. Neuberger, one of America’s greatest collectors and philanthropists,” said Thom Collins, director of the Neuberger Museum of Art. “All of us at the museum, the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art and Purchase College are gratified and thrilled. We invite the public to enjoy the fruits of Mr Neuberger’s extraordinary collecting, which are on permanent view at the museum in the exhibition ‘Reframing American Art: Selections from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection.'”
On Saturday, December 1, the Neuberger Museum of Art will conduct a reception to honor Roy Neuberger from 5 to 6 pm. The public is invited to attend.
For more than half a century, Neuberger has supported emerging artists, encouraged a trend of corporate collecting and donated important works to and financially supported dozens of art institutions. In 1969, at the request of then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller, he donated a significant portion of his collection †more than 900 works of mid-Twentieth Century American art †to New York State to establish the Neuberger Museum of Art. Today, the museum houses more than 6,000 works of Modern, contemporary and African art.
“The timing of this award is particularly meaningful,” said Thomas Schwarz, president of Purchase College, “as this is the 40th anniversary of the founding of Purchase College by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. We join the rest of the nation in applauding Mr Neuberger for his great gift of art to the American public. Designed by Philip Johnson, the Neuberger Museum of Art was the first building constructed on this campus. We are honored and proud to have this magnificent collection for everyone to enjoy.”
Starting in the mid-1940s, Roy Neuberger donated thousands of paintings to museums and colleges across the country, including: the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. To provide support for the Neuberger Museum of Art, Neuberger founded the Friends of the NMA in 1972, which now raises more than 60 percent of the museum’s annual expenses. He continues to make substantial contributions. He said, “I started giving away art because I felt strongly that I was only borrowing it.”
Neuberger also has been a tireless advocate of the visual arts. He devoted many years to the American Federation of Arts (AFA), where his leadership has been central to its success. He also served as a Whitney Museum Trustee (1961‱968) and was named trustee emeritus in 1969. He was elected an honorary trustee for life at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1968. He acted as chairman of the board of the Purchase College Foundation (1974‱985), continuing as an honorary trustee. He was elected a Benjamin Franklin Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts in London (1969), a Fellow in Perpetuity of the National Academy of Design (1971) and a Fellow of the Rhode Island School of Design (1981).
A successful financier, Neuberger founded Neuberger Berman, an investment advisory firm, in 1939 with Robert Berman. Neuberger made enough money early in his career to finance his great passion, art. “In the beginning, I collected art for a purpose †to help support living artists. Now I am simply a lover of art,” Neuberger once commented.
Other recipients of the 2007 National Medal of Art are Morten Lauridsen, composer, Los Angeles; N. Scott Momaday, author, Oklahoma City, Okla.; R. Craig Noel, director, San Diego, Calif.; Les Paul, guitar pioneer, New York City; Henry Steinway, arts patron, New York City; George Tooker, painter, Hartsville, Vt.; University of Idaho Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival, Moscow, Idaho; Andrew Wyeth, painter, Chadds Ford, Penn.; and Erich Kunzel, conductor (2006 Recipient), Naples, Fla.
The Neuberger Museum of Art is at 735 Anderson Hill Road. For general information, www.Neuberger.org or 914-251-6100.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm