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Search and Serendipity - Audio

by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Since opening its doors fifty years ago, the Ackland Art Museum has built an impressive collection of nearly 15,000 works of art. These works entered the collection through a combination of search and serendipity: some came to us by design – we intentionally sought them out for purchase – others came by good fortune through generous gifts. Regardless of the means by which we acquired the works in our collection, our decision to accept them has been guided by three principles: they must provide a satisfying aesthetic experience, stimulate creative thinking, and provoke discussion. These principles derive from our status as a public university art museum Search and Serendipity highlights a few of the Museum’s 663 acquisitions between 2006 and 2008. The recent purchases and gifts are are installed in galleries throughout the Museum and are identifiable by an icon on the labels next to them. The labels reveal whether a work came to the Museum by search or by serendipity. Works purchased by the Ackland were paid for using one of two endowment funds, the William A. Whitaker Foundation Art Fund and the Ackland Fund. Works that were given to the Museum generally note “Gift of” or “Bequest of.” Typically donors give works of art directly. On rare occasions, however, donors will give the Museum funds to purchase a work of art. This is the case with the gift by Howard Holsenbeck (UNC-Chapel-Hill, class of 1963). He worked with museum staff to select a work that would add significantly to the collection, and gave us the funds we needed to make the purchase possible.