Robert McCall to Donate More Than 200 Pieces to UA Museum of Art
Collection valued at nearly $3 million

Johnny Cruz
Oct. 9, 2007

Paradise Valley artist Robert T. McCall, whose nearly seven-decade career includes documenting the NASA space program, is donating more than 200 original pieces to The University of Arizona Museum of Art (UAMA).

McCall will formally announce his gift at the opening of an exhibit of his works at the Paradise Valley Town Hall on Oct. 9 at 5:30 p.m. The 18 pieces on display there are part of the collection going to the UA Museum of Art.

“My wife Louise and I are delighted that this very historic and unique collection is going to The University of Arizona, where we have been involved in the astronomy program for many years,” McCall said.

The collection, which includes personal archives and notes, has an estimated value of $2.5 million to $3 million, according to McCall. The work is the lead gift to establish the Archive of Visual Arts (AVA) at the UAMA.

The AVA will collect artists’ papers and materials – including diaries, correspondence, financial documents and personal items – to support the study of creativity and to facilitate research in numerous disciplines.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Robert is the lead artist for the visual archive,” said Charles Guerin, executive director of the UAMA. “The AVA will not only support research in art history, it will also provide a fertile repository for the study of creativity itself and creative processes and technologies.”

McCall has documented the NASA space program for more than 35 years. His illustrations portray America's finest achievements, from Alan Shepard’s space flight aboard Mercury 1 to Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon; from the U.S.-Soviet joint Apollo-Soyuz mission to the most recent launches of the Space Shuttle.

“Few have captured the American spirit of ingenuity, hope and imagination as eloquently as Robert McCall,” said Robert N. Shelton, president of the UA. “That’s why preserving his art for future generations is so important for our students and our community.”

More than 10 million people a year admire his massive six-story-high mural at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. He also has created stamps for the U.S. Postal Service that commemorate the American space program.

In addition to being a visual historian for NASA, McCall has served as a conceptual artist for the entertainment industry. One of his most well known commercial pieces is the poster art for the classic motion picture 2001: A Space Odyssey.

McCall is a longtime supporter of the UA’s efforts in space exploration, serving on the University’s astronomy board. McCall pieces have been on display at the UA for years, including the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham in southeastern Arizona and Steward Observatory on the UA’s Tucson campus.

“Bob is absolutely passionate about astronomy and space science, so it’s been wonderful to have him and Louise around the program,” said Peter Strittmatter, director of Steward Observatory at The University of Arizona.

McCall’s artwork will positively influence the next chapter of space exploration at the University, said Joaquin Ruiz, dean of UA’s College of Science.

“If you look at what we call transformative science, the type of research that really changes the way we view our world, it’s all on the edge of science fiction,” Ruiz said. “Sometimes people like Bob McCall help point us in the direction of where science should be going. The futuristic views of his work will be inspiring to new explorations – beyond the current Mars mission – that we are already working on.”


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