100 Artworks Given to North Carolina Museum of Art

Sean Scully, Wall of Light Peru (2000).
Courtesy North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) is set to receive a generous gift of 100 works of modern and contemporary art. The collection belongs to Jim Patton, the founder of a leading Washington D.C. law and lobbying firm, and his late wife Mary, who was an accomplished artist herself.

The philanthropic couple spent much of their life collecting important pieces of mid-to-late 20th century American art. The gift to the NCMA includes seminal paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and photographs by artists such as Milton Avery, Sean Scully, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Motherwell, and many others.

The majority of the collection was handed over to the museum on December 10 of last year, with two pieces given in 2013, and 17 due to enter the institution’s collection at a later date.

Both Pattons have long-established connections to North Carolina, having grown up in Durham and attended universities in the state. Speaking about his donation, Jim Patton said, “I am thankful we were able to collect this art and give it back to the world. I like the idea that these works that Mary and I enjoyed over the years will give pleasure to other people.”

“We are immensely grateful for this exceptional gift from Jim and Mary Patton” said Director of the NCMA Lawrence J. Wheeler, who describes the couple as “two of the most generous and passionate art collectors from our state.” According to Wheeler, the newly acquired collection “expands the breadth and scope of the Museum’s permanent collection.”

A number of the works from the collection will be featured in a special exhibition titled “The Patton Collection: A Gift to North Carolina,” which opens on March 28.


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