Honoring the UAMA's Collection, Legacy of Arts Donors
"An Unfolding Legacy" is a series of events that will highlight the history of the UA Museum of Art while recognizing the many donors that have helped build the collection.

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications
Dec. 4, 2013

To launch a yearlong series of events honoring 90 years of exhibitions and other arts events at what is now known as the University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts, two new exhibitions have opened.

During the celebration, called "An Unfolding Legacy," which will conclude in March 2015, more than a dozen different exhibitions will showcase the museum’s holdings. For many of the works that will be shown, it will be the first time in decades that they have left the museum's vaults.

"We haven't had the opportunity to share the depth of the collection in this kind of way," said Carol Petrozzello, marketing specialist for the UAMA, which has more than 6,000 original works of art in its collection, which span seven centuries of global art history.

To launch the series, the UAMA, in partnership with the UA Honors College and UA School of Dance, is hosting "Legacies of a Line." During the Dec. 5 event, which begins at 5 p.m. at the museum, undergraduate and graduate students will present interpretations of UAMA's legacy through writings, dance and other art forms. The event is open to the members of the public with a $5 entrance fee. Admission is free for UA students and employees.

"Using art as a way to interpret and share ideas about the world is exactly why our collection is here for the community. We're excited to see how this event unfolds and are already looking forward to more collaborations with the Honors College and the UA dance school in the future," said Olivia Miller, the UAMA's curator of education. "The UAMA is very proud to work with such an amazing and imaginative group of students from the Honors College."

Also important and significant about An Unfolding Legacy is that, in a pointed way, it acknowledges the historic contributions of donors and patrons who have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the UAMA, which is now lauded as one of the first significant public museums and art collections in the region.

"Here is this incredible collection. It's one of the things that makes the University unique," said Dennis Jones, who directs the UAMA and the UA School of Art.

"This is about a legacy. It is time to ask ourselves what our legacy represents and in what ways we can add to our legacy," Jones said. "This year, we wanted to be more autobiographical about our contribution to our world and to look within ourselves. Showing as many of our works as possible is a great way to do that."

Series of exhibitions highlight history, donor support

The first two exhibitions being offered as part of An Unfolding Legacy are open and will run through March 24.

"The Modern Spirit: Selections from the Edward J. Gallagher III Memorial Collection," includes some of the UAMA’s most visible and notable pieces, including Mark Rothko’s "Green on Blue," Jackson Pollock's "Number 20, 1950" and Franz Kline's "Black and White."

The second in the series, "American Visions: Selections from the C. Leonard Pfeiffer Collection" features works by American and European artists, exemplifying early 20th century Americana.

Pfeiffer, who made the most significant donation to the UAMA, once said: "I wish that all men with the love of art in their souls would take these words to hear: Help build collections in every corner of our land."

In addition to showcasing the UAMA's collection and honoring its history of donors, An Unfolding Legacy is also meant to illustrate how "art is a refuge and a reminiscence," Petrozzello said. "No one sees art in the same way. It brings about different ideas and feelings and resonates with you in a way that hopefully helps you to see the world differently."

Next year's exhibitions include those highlighting, among other topics and eras, artworks created between the first and second World Wars, modern master print works, surrealist works and the impressionist period, works by famed illustrator Robert McCall and the photography of Ansel Adam, whose archive of work is being preserved by the UA Center for Creative Photography.

Other exhibitions, and their opening dates, include:

  • Dec. 6: "Modern Master Prints" will present the work of world-renowned 20th century artist Joan Miró and graphic artists such as Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Zúñiga, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Luis Cuevas.
  • March 14: "Robert McCall’s Universe" will highlight works by illustrator and conceptual artist McCall, who designed work for NASA. The UAMA holds the archives for the late McCall, and the exhibition will include not only his paintings and drawings, but also his correspondence, appointment books and other documents. A lecture is being planned for the spring with UA astronomers involved with the OSIRIS-REx Mission to coincide with the exhibition.
  • May 31: "Gallagher Purchases Part I" is the first in a two-part series highlighting the works the UAMA has acquired as a result of the endowment established by then-Baltimore businessman Edward Gallagher Jr., who later became one of the museum's most significant donors. Gallagher's endowment continues to enable the UAMA to purchase works of art today and, all told, about 1,500 works have been purchased with funds from the endowment. 
  • July 18: "Designing Line and Space: The Art of Sara Wallach" will showcase the work of artist Wallach. In particular, the exhibition will highlight what Wallach termed as her "Saragraphs," an etching process she devised to create her prints. The exhibition will include Wallach's artwork and also a selection of written materials.
  • Oct. 4: "Of Dust and Rainbows: Selections from the Prentiss Taylor Gift" will showcase the works of Taylor, an American illustrator, lithographer and painter.

Telling the full story

The exhibitions will details how each collection is distinctive, often using documents and other archival material, said Jill McCleary, archivist for the UAMA and Archive of Visual Art.

"The documents we have available share a story beyond the art; we have greater access to the artist," McCleary said.

"It could be business records, photos, correspondence – they put the art in a context and history that lets us understand the work," she said. "This is what we want. We want people to get so much more than just the final product, the artwork. When we can, it is something very beautiful to have."

For example, from archival records, the UAMA staff learned that Pfeiffer, who graduated from the UA in 1940, would go on to sell his collection of stamps so that he could begin amassing a collection of art produced by American artists, particularly during the first and second World Wars.

The team also learned that, through her work, Wallach spoke directly about the human experience and the human condition.

Also, Gallagher decided to establish a collection to honor the memory of his son, Edward Gallagher III, who died in 1932 as the result of an accident. Gallagher wrote of his intentions to then-UA President Richard Harvill speaking about the affinity he and his family had for the UA and Arizona, she also noted. Harvill informed Gallagher that the museum was especially interested in adding French contemporary works to the collection, and Gallagher obliged.

And in his personal records, McCall noted with great detail the process to create his works, which illustrate far advanced technology, fantastic views of space exploration and life unrestricted by terrestrial limitations. Often, he would rely on photographs to help him illustrate his work, which continues to inspire.

"It's such an important place in American history – the space race," Miller said.

The same can be said for other works that have been donated to the UAMA. Whether they highlight the skill in Japanese prints, present a range of watercolor works or address socially and culturally relevant moments in history, the collection sheds lights on significant moments in the U.S. and beyond.

"Museums don't happen over night," Miller said. Regarding the founding of the UAMA, Miller said: "The fact that Tucson was such a small city and the University was such a small campus at the time of its founding is what was so interesting, and it is very special."

Danielle D'Adamo contributed to this article.

Extra info


"Legacies of a Line"


University of Arizona Museum of Art, 1031 N. Olive Road


Dec. 5 at 5 p.m.

"Legacies of a Line" is the result of a UAMA and UA Honors College collaboration involving graduate students and also students in the Honors 160 course taught by assistant professor Patrick Baliani. "It's an interdisciplinary exploration of several art forms," Baliani said.


Resources for the media


Dennis Jones

UA School of Art

University of Arizona Museum of Art




Carol Petrozzello

University of Arizona Museum of Art




Patrick Baliani

UA Honors College




UANews contact:

La Monica Everett-Haynes