Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma

When Oscar Jacobson (1882-1966) became director of the School of Art in 1915, there was only one art class on campus. Supplies for drawing and painting were scarce, and sculpting materials non-existent. Though a few wealthy families had private collections, there were no art museums or collections in the state available to the public, and the art center nearest to Norman was a far afield as St. Louis. Undaunted by these challenges, Jacobson envisioned an art school which would nurture its students to develop to their fullest potential.

In 1936, with the acquisition of a large collection of East Asian art (750 objects), the generous gift of Lew Wentz and Gordon Matzene, the Museum of Art was officially founded and Jacobson was named its director. By this time, Jacobson had already collected over 2,500 works of art for the University. The new museum’s first galleries were in what is now Jacobson Hall. In 1948, the permanent collection was further embellished with the purchase of the so-called State Department Collection, comprised of thirty-six paintings from the exhibition Advancing American Art and including major works by artists such as Stuart Davis, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Edward Hopper.

Jacobson’s vision of a permanent facility to house the art finally came to fruition in 1971, when Mr. and Mrs. Fred Jones of Oklahoma City donated a fine arts building to the University in memory of their son, Fred Jones, Jr., who had died in an airplane crash during his senior year at the University of Oklahoma. The resulting structure, the Fred Jones Jr. Memorial Art Center, housed the Museum of Art, which contains 15,000 square feet of exhibition space, the School of Art, and the administrative offices of the College of Fine Arts. In 1992, the Museum of Art was re-designated the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

Over the years, the Museum’s permanent collection has grown exponentially through the generosity of donors such as Max Weitzenhoffer and Jerome M. Westheimer Sr. In 1996, with an initial gift of $1 million from Mrs. Fred Jones, OU President and Mrs. David L. Boren spearheaded the successful fundraising campaign to acquire the important collection of the late Richard H. and Adeline J. Fleischaker, which is composed primarily of Native American and Southwestern art.

2000 was a watershed year in the development of the FJJMA’s collections, with the gift of the Weitzenhoffer Collection of French Impressionism, which consists of 33 works of art by Degas, Gauguin, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Vuillard and others. It is the most important collection of French Impressionism ever given to an American public university. The gift came to the University as the bequest of Clara Weitzenhoffer, an art collector and long-time University of Oklahoma supporter.

Place Categories: Art MuseumPlace Tags: paintings, Photography, printmaking and sculptures

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