The Board of Trustees of the Springfield Museums has accepted one of the most comprehensive collections of Currier & Ives prints in the world.
In a unanimous decision, the trustees voted to accept 787 Currier & Ives hand colored lithographs from Silver Springs, Md., collectors Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert, who have amassed the collection over the past 40 years. Only the Library of Congress and the Museum of the City of New York have larger public collection of these prints.
In selecting the Springfield Museums for their collection, Sidney Alpert said, “We were looking for a place where the collection would be appreciated, preserved and kept intact. These pieces have become part of my family and now they’re going to a new home in Springfield, which seems especially fitting since you have snow up there and so many of the prints have a snowy atmosphere.”
He added that the choice also seemed appropriate since Currier was a native of Massachusetts, “born in Roxbury, had summer house called the ‘Lions Mouth’ in Amesbury, and served his apprenticeship at the age of 15 under Boston lithographers William and John Pendleton.”
The prints cover a diverse variety of subjects including the Revolutionary and Civil wars, American scenic wonders, Barnum’s Circus, genre scenes, firefighting, rural and agrarian scenes, pastimes such as hunting, yachting and racing, city life, western expansion and political portraits. Many of the scenes related to New England.
The Alpert’s gift was supplemented with art museums’ funds that can only be used to purchase art. In the coming months the staff will be cataloging and preparing the prints for a major Currier & Ives exhibition which is being planned for December 2005.