Gibbes Museum receives $150,000 grant for portrait miniatures installation

The Gibbes Museum of Art has received a grant award of $150,000 from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation to support the installation of the museum’s miniature portrait collection in the renovated building. The Donnelley Foundation supports efforts to preserve and provide greater access to regionally significant collections. The Foundation’s strategy is to support a range of specific projects including stabilization, cataloguing, preservation and restoration, digitization, enhanced opportunities for access by both the general public and scholars, and reinterpretation.

Gibbes Museum Miniature“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Donnelley Foundation for the installation and preservation of the miniature collection,” said  Gibbes Museum of Art Executive Director Angela Mack. “The first-ever American miniatures were painted in Charleston, and today the Gibbes is home to one of the most prestigious American portrait miniature collections in the country.”

A major highlight of the newly renovated museum will be a dedicated gallery space featuring the nationally acclaimed collection of portrait miniatures. With over 600 miniature portraits, the Gibbes collection is the third largest in the United States and ranks in quality among those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. New state-of-the-art display cases featuring accessible open storage drawers will allow visitors to experience up-close nearly 300 portrait miniatures by some of America’s most significant painters while simultaneously providing custom microclimates to preserve this sensitive collection.

“Prior to the renovation, gallery conditions at the museum allowed for the exhibition of just 30-35 miniatures at a time—a fraction of the total collection. The new, dedicated miniature portrait gallery will introduce visitors to the refined colors and exquisite draftsmanship of these tiny treasures,” said Sara Arnold Gibbes, Museum of Art curator of collections. This unprecedented access to the collection will be accompanied by digitally enhanced interpretive materials that will offer visitors in-depth insight into painting techniques, materials, jeweled casework, conservation, and the social and cultural significance of these unique objects.

Image: American eye miniature, unknown, ca. 1830s, watercolor on ivory; 1 inch diameter. Gift of Mr. James Sellers in memory of James Nelson Sellers.

About the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation
Gaylord Donnelley was a former chairman of the R.R. Donnelley Company, a Chicago-based publishing company founded by his grandfather in 1864. Gaylord and his wife, Dorothy, were avid lovers of the outdoors. They contributed to numerous land conservation efforts in the Chicago region and their adopted home in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. They were equally devoted to the arts and preserving collections. The Donnelley’s legacy lives on in the Foundation they established in 1952. Today, the Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality and collections of regional significance in the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

About the Gibbes Museum of Art
Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1905. In the fall of 2014, the Gibbes temporarily closed for major renovations and will reopen in the spring of 2016. The renovation project is designed to showcase the museum’s collection, provide visitors with a history of American art from the early colonial era to the present, and engage the public with a center for education, artist studios, lecture and event space, a museum café, and store. During the renovation the museum will offer programs such as the Insider Art Series, Art With a Twist, Art of Healing, events including the Art of Design and annual Gibbes on the Street Party, and educational offerings such as Art to Go and Eye Spy Art. Highlights of the Gibbes permanent collection can be viewed on Google Art Project at