Date of this Version
The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska- Lincoln, 1963
A number of years ago I had an opportunity to express myself in anticipation of the completion of the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery. Planning was largely completed at that time and construction was well under way. My thoughts had adjusted themselves to the compromises which are inevitable in such a situation and I was encouraged to believe that all was well with the job at hand. Lest I be guilty of creating the impression that the story has another ending, let me say that the completed building has surpassed our expectations.
In the months of the first year following the Galleries' dedication we have been convinced over and over again of the rightness of Mr. Johnson's decisions in every part of the design. The anticipations of 1961 have turned into realities and although some of the hopes expressed are still short of realization the excitement of possibility is still in them. Let me rephrase these earlier thoughts, representing as they still do, the ideas which best fulfill the function of this remarkable building.
The Sheldon Art Gallery is not a large building. It is compactly planned to accommodate all the standard functions of administration, display, preparation, conservation, audio-visual education, and last but not least in this togetherness world, sociability. The building does not provide for an all out exhibition of the University's art collections. This is not the result of oversight, but of decisions taken with regard to the exact character and purpose of the institution as a whole. The gallery is a memorial to the donors. As such it is properly conceived as an important work of contemporary art in its own right. Independent of its contents it speaks for architecture as an art, but taken with them and with the functions intrinsic to the institution it speaks in another larger sense, which has but rarely reached expression in the art museums of our time.