Remarks by Provost John Etchemendy at Anderson Collection Groundbreaking

Good afternoon and welcome.

For those of you I haven’t had a chance to meet, I am John Etchemendy, Stanford provost. It is my honor to welcome everyone to this groundbreaking ceremony for the Anderson Collection at Stanford University.

We are delighted that Hunk, Moo and Putter are here to help us mark the occasion. It is almost impossible to describe the profound effect the gift of their remarkable collection will have on Stanford, on our students and on all who appreciate American art. But this afternoon, we are certainly going to try.

I also want to welcome the many members of the Stanford Board of Trustees here, as well as the many friends of the Anderson family in attendance.

Behind me, you see an artistic rendition of how this area will be transformed. The building housing the Anderson Collection will become a cornerstone in Stanford’s evolving Arts District—and we couldn’t be more thrilled. I hope you agree that it will be breathtaking.

The home for the Anderson Collection at Stanford is a distinctive design by Ennead, and we are pleased that Richard Olcott is here today representing the firm. Richard also designed the Bing Concert Hall and the expansion to the Cantor Arts Center. I think we can all agree he and his staff have done an extraordinary job.

I am going to speak for a few minutes about the significance of this gift to Stanford and then turn the podium over to Professor Alex Nemerov, who will reflect on the research and teaching opportunities the Anderson Collection creates for scholars here and throughout the world.

Professor Nemerov will be followed by Roberta Denning, a Stanford alumnae who chairs the advisory council for the Arts Initiative and whose tireless efforts have helped support our university’s renaissance in the arts and creativity.  Additionally, she chairs the Humanities & Sciences Council for Dean Richard Saller.

Then we will ask Hunk to say a few words before we don hardhats for a ceremonial groundbreaking. After that, I hope you will remain and join us for a reception.

As all of you know, for the past 50 years, the Andersons have enthusiastically and passionately assembled one of the most outstanding private collections of 20th-century American art in the world. Stanford University is proud to now become home to the core of the Anderson Collection, including 121 works by 86 artists, representing a wide array of time periods and media.

This collection is brilliant, inspirational and critically important to our understanding of modern American art. The collection is one of the most valuable and significant to be donated to any university, and it is unparalleled in Stanford’s 127-year history.

This gift also marks a milestone in Stanford’s Arts Initiative, which Roberta Denning will explain in more detail. Simply stated, we believe that experiences with the arts are essential to a liberal arts education. The arts enrich our culture, broaden our horizons and prompt us to think in new and more meaningful ways, no matter what discipline we study. They aid the development of creativity and spur innovation.

Our founders, Jane and Leland Stanford, understood the powerful role of the arts in education.  In their founding grant, they envisioned a campus with laboratories and what they called (quote) “mechanical institutes,” but also art galleries and museums. As Leland Stanford said, (quote), “The imagination needs to be cultivated and developed to assure success in life.” He continued, and I paraphrase, “A [person] will never construct anything he [or she] cannot conceive.”

That assertion is behind the arts neighborhood you see taking shape around us. From the Cantor Arts Center to the Bing Concert Hall to the McMurtry Building, which will house the Department of Art and Art History, to the Anderson Collection, this arts district will be a destination for all who are passionate about art and who understand the value of creativity to the human spirit.

Leland and Jane Stanford believed that it was their duty to serve others, and they charged those of us who follow in their footsteps with doing the same.

That same spirit of service to others was behind Hunk, Moo and Putter’s inspirational gift. The Anderson family shares many of the values reflected in the Stanfords’ visionary creation of this university.

It was always Hunk, Moo and Putter’s intent to share their collection and to create a legacy for the generations who will follow. The Andersons believe that art can inspire us all, and they have always considered themselves to be the collection’s temporary custodians. Stanford University is fortunate and honored that they have chosen us to continue the legacy from here.

Hunk, Moo and Putter, you can be sure your gift will have a lasting impact and benefit generations to come. Thank you for your confidence in us.

Next we will hear from Alex Nemerov, the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor of Arts and Humanities. Professor Nemerov rejoined Stanford this year after teaching at Yale, where he earned a reputation as an outstanding researcher and teacher of the humanities and the arts.

Please join me in welcoming Professor Alex Nemerov.

Closing Remarks

Thank you, Hunk.

I would now like to invite you, Moo and Putter back to the stage. We have some specially labeled hardhats and shovels to share.

After we have done the ceremonial turning of the dirt, I hope you will all join us for a reception celebrating the Anderson Collection at Stanford University. I encourage you to stop by the Cantor Auditorium to see the model of this new arts neighborhood, as well as the architectural fly-through videos of the Anderson, Bing and McMurtry buildings.

Thank you all for joining our celebration this afternoon.