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$20 million gift to art Museum from Peter Lynch
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$20 million gift to art Museum from Peter Lynch

The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College has unveiled its largest donation of paintings in the institution’s thirty-year history.

The acquisition, consisting mostly of American paintings from the 1860s through 1930s, also marks the largest addition to its works on permanent display.

The works come from the collection of Peter and Carolyn Lynch, who both graduated from Boston College in 1965. Peter Lynch, vice chairman of Fidelity Management, collected art with his late wife Carolyn over many decades.

“This was a dream come true,” said McMullen Museum of Art Director Nancy Netzer, who worked with Lynch to select which works would enter the museum’s collection. “It’s a cohesive gift that enhances the American collection that we have been building really for the last 30 years. And it’s transformative in that sense.”

The collection includes works by Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent and Pablo Picasso. Valued at over $20 million, it’s also one of the largest donations of any kind in the college’s 130-year-history.

Visitors from the museum can use QR codes to view commentary on the art from faculty across Boston College’s departments. The guide will continue to be updated, and as of the collection’s opening day, it already includes submissions from Earth and environmental sciences, theology, philosophy, history, classics and political science faculty.

For Netzer and Lynch, how the artwork could serve the college’s greater educational goals played an important role in selecting which pieces made it into the museum. “One of the departments that we have at Boston College that is quite renowned is Earth and environmental sciences, and that goes back to the Jesuit tradition of interest in geology,” Netzer said. “So we were really attracted to paintings with stones, especially from the area of New England, because our students study this, and we were also very interested in works from the 19th century that can now be looked at to determine the effects of climate change.”

In addition to the pieces of art, the Lynches have also gifted the museum a $5 million grant that will allow for the museum, college faculty and outside scholars to research the works.

The Lynches amassed these works over the course of their 50 years together before Carolyn’s death in 2015. “Every item in this collection was selected in a joint manner by my late wife Carolyn and me, and in most cases, Carolyn was the lead advocate.” Lynch said in a statement. “It brings great joy to my family knowing that the BC students and the larger community will enjoy the collection for generations to come.”

Currently, each of the 30 works from this gift are placed together among complementary works from the rest of the museum’s collection. While they may move around the museum to draw comparisons with other collections, the works are expected to remain on display to the public permanently.

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