Joan Brock makes $34M gift to Chrysler Museum
Donation includes 40 works of art
The Chrysler Museum of Art, in Norfolk, announced Tuesday that Hampton Roads philanthropist Joan Brock has donated $34 million, including 40 works of art and two position endowments. The gift will also support the expansion of the Perry Glass Studio.
Joan Brock, a longstanding supporter of the Chrysler Museum, was the first woman to preside over the Chrysler Museum Board and served as a museum docent. Her late husband, Macon Brock, chaired the museum’s 2014 capital campaign and the couple’s support funded the museum’s 2014 expansion. Macon Brock cofounded Dollar Tree Inc., where Joan also worked for decades.
The artworks from the Macon and Joan Brock collection span nearly 100 years of American art, from just after the Civil War to the mid-20th century, according to the Chrysler Museum.
“The Brock Collection is one of the most significant private collections of American art assembled in the 21st century,” Corey Piper, the Brock curator of American art, said in a statement. “Major paintings and works on paper by the most important artists of the late-19th and early-20th centuries chart a broad history of American art of the period and will allow the Chrysler to tell new and more compelling stories of our nation’s artistic history.”
The gift includes 29 paintings by artists such as John Singer Sargent, John La Farge, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, George Benjamin Luks, George Bellows, Childe Hassam, Marsden Hartley, Sally Michel and William McGregor Paxton. Among the 10 works on paper are two works by William Merritt Chase, two by Winslow Homer and a watercolor by Charles Ephraim Burchfield. A glass sculpture by Debora Moore is also included.
“In addition to their historical importance, the works in the Brock collection stand as superlative examples of exceptional quality, a testament to Macon and Joan’s astute eyes. While their love of American painting guided their pursuits, they also demonstrated great foresight in the construction of a collection for the public’s benefit. The gift of the collection will elevate the stature of the Chrysler’s American art holdings and programs, making it a national leader in the exhibition, study, and appreciation of American art,” Piper said.
The collection adds 15 artists not previously represented in the museum and fills in key gaps in the museum’s collection, the museum noted in a news release. Nineteenth-century works from the Hudson River School, American Impressionism and the Aesthetic movement, as well as 20th-century American Modernism pieces, are in the collection.
A selection will be on view in a winter 2023-2024 exhibition at the museum. The presentation will also have a publication of a comprehensive catalog of the collection, with essays written by the museum’s curators and scholars of American art.
“I could not be happier to make this gift to the Chrysler, and to the Hampton Roads region that has been my home for most of my life,” Joan Brock said in a statement. “I have great esteem for the institution, its leaders and the talented team of professionals who work there. Our collection has brought us true joy and I’m hoping museum visitors will be inspired as we have by these great artists.”
In addition to the works of art, Joan Brock has made a gift to endow the director’s position, currently held by Erik Neil, the museum’s director since 2014. A second endowment will underwrite a new position that will support the curatorial team’s research and development of exhibitions and presentations of the museum’s permanent collection.
“I am deeply honored by Joan’s extraordinary generosity and her and Macon’s longtime commitment to the Chrysler,” said Neil, the newly named Macon and Joan Brock director. “Their gifts have been transformational for the museum. This is the largest expansion of our American art collection since Walter Chrysler’s gift in 1971. The art and the endowments help us grow and contribute immensely to our institutional strength.”
In addition to the Chrysler Museum, the Brocks have supported many organizations in Virginia, including Longwood University, Old Dominion University, Randolph Macon College, Virginia Wesleyan University, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Sentara Brock Cancer Center and the United Way, among many others.
“It’s incredibly exciting that a collection of this importance will be added to the museum’s collection. We are immensely grateful to the Brocks for their remarkable gifts, which help ensure the museum’s vitality for many years to come,” Chrysler Museum Board Chairman Brother Rutter said in a statement.