In 1971, 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.
The Stuart Wing, which opened in October 2011, provides a new 18,000-square-foot expansion of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art to house the museum’s many collections acquired within the past 15 years. Designed by noted architect Rand Elliott, the new addition is named the Stuart Wing to honor a $3 million lead gift from the Stuart Family Foundation made possible by the generosity of OU Regent Jon R. Stuart and his wife, Dee Dee, a member of the art museum’s board of visitors.
Construction on the new wing began in 2009 and includes renovations to the original 1971 building and the addition of the Eugene B. Adkins Gallery, a new photography gallery and new administrative offices. In all, the new Stuart Wing, with renovations, includes 27,480 square feet of exhibition space. When added to the 2005 Lester Wing’s 12,106 square footage, the total museum exhibition space, is approximately 40,000 square feet.
The collections housed in the Stuart Wing allow visitors to view works of art that complement the already outstanding collections held by the museum, including the Weitzenhoffer Collection of French Impressionism, bringing the total to nearly 16,000 works of art.
It’s another example of great architecture that houses an outstanding collection of art on a university campus. I look forward to a visit when I’m in Oklahoma!