Terra Collection in Residence: A New Approach to Loans and Partnerships

The Terra Foundation’s art collection includes more than 750 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and sculptures by 242 artists working between the 1750s and the 1980s. The collection is available for loans throughout the world, and it continues to evolve to the present day.

We recognize that the collection reflects only part of the artistic and cultural heritage of the United States and reveals current and historical inequities in the ways American art is presented, exhibited, interpreted, bought, and sold. We are committed to working alongside our partners to challenge the biases that shaped the collection and its interpretation and to reimagine ways the collection can help us question and broaden stories of American art.

One way we are beginning this work is through a new program, Terra Collection in Residence, in which the foundation loans artworks from its collection for an extended period to invited academic museums in the US and international museums with strong connections to universities. This program helps museums deepen and expand the stories they tell through their permanent collections and provides additional opportunities for research and teaching with American art. The program engenders new interpretive frameworks for the foundation’s artworks reflecting a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, bringing diverse voices into dialogue around these objects and their historical contexts.

With our partners, we begin conversations about their research and curricular goals and think about how the loaned works help tell new stories with the institution’s permanent collection. One to five artworks are loaned for two to four years to each institution. The Terra Foundation also provides a grant of $25,000 per year for interpretation and care of the objects. Currently, the foundation initiates projects through invitation.

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Learn more from our partners about the ways they are using works from the collection.

Tougaloo College (Tougaloo, MS)
February 11–December 2022

“The two artworks, Room Space (1937–38, oil on canvas) by Albert Eugene Gallatin (1881–1952), and Mannikin (1931, lithograph on white woven paper) by Arshille Gorky (1904–1948), on loan from the Terra Foundation allow the college to consider the full story of Tougaloo’s essential role in movements that helped define the American experience. The objects are featured in the new permanent teaching installation called FREEDOM: Abstract Expressionism, Tougaloo College and the Civil Rights Movement, supported in part by the Terra Foundation. It was birthed out of a desire to add much needed context to the art collections at Tougaloo and to build on the New York Art Committee for Tougaloo College’s mission of making art accessible to students and faculty.

“The title, FREEDOM, is inspired by the consistent mantra that was chanted, sung, and shouted during the struggle for civil rights in America. Additional inspiration comes from a quote from an unknown art scholar who reflected on the art climate in the United States during the 1950s. The scholar states in part, ‘It is ironic but not contradictory that in a society…in which political repression weighed as heavily as it did in the United States, abstract expressionism was for many the expression of freedom: the freedom to creative controversial works of art, the freedom symbolized by action painting, by unbridled expressionism without fetters.’”

—Turry M. Flucker, Curator and Director of the Tougaloo College Art Collections

Georgia Museum of Art (Athens, GA)
June 2022–May 2026

“The Terra Collection in Residence program fills crucial gaps within our permanent collection galleries and amplifies the existing narratives we tell about the history of American art. John Singleton Copley’s portrait has fostered new, richer conversations between northern and southern colonial portraiture, which are traditionally segregated in the study of early American painting. Now, hanging alongside the southern portraitists Henry Benbridge and Jeremiah Theus, Copley’s painting helps us explore issues like transatlantic female identity and self-fashioning, including through a new partnership with the fashion history program at the University of Georgia.

“Programming in spring 2023, including through the art history department’s biennial emerging scholars symposium, will examine Copley’s and Benbridge’s portraits in light of the links among colonial portraiture, whiteness, the economy of slavery, and the ecology of commodities like indigo in the Americas. Elsewhere, Charles Sheeler’s Bucks County Barn now hangs alongside our own red barn painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, raising the question of how rural subjects served the cause of American modernism, which is so often understood as an urban-centered phenomenon. Sheeler’s efforts to reconcile the American agrarian past with the machine age suggest other overarching cultural attitudes of the day, from those who used vernacular subjects to promote nationalist agendas to those who saw rural life as an antidote to the fatiguing forces of the modern city. Finally, this fall, we will install Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Les Invalides, Paris alongside paintings from our collection by a younger generation of African American artists like William Edouard Scott and Palmer Hayden, who sought Tanner’s mentorship in the 1910s and 1920s by traveling to France and who found in Europe a similar language of artistic transcendence.”

—Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, Ph.D., Curator of American Art, Georgia Museum of Art

Colby College Museum of Art (Waterville, Maine)
June 2022–June 2025

“As a participant in the Terra Collection in Residence program, the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, is delighted and grateful to have four extraordinary paintings from the Terra Collection on view in our Lunder Wing: Frederic Edwin Church’s The Iceberg (1875); George Caleb Bingham’s The Jolly Flatboatmen (1877–78); Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Boy with Cow (1921); and Thomas Hart Benton’s The Spinners (1925–26). We have integrated the Terra loans with the Colby collection, creating new arrangements in several galleries in order to facilitate teaching and research.

“Related programs for students and all of our audiences will include lectures, talks, workshops, and readings. There are broad themes to explore—the artistic representations of climate and environmental change, narratives and metaphors in images of nature, and the significance of rural life and the culture and labor that sustains its communities. Through our object-based teaching program, we will support interdisciplinary engagement with the Terra paintings and commission multiple contributors, including contemporary artists, to generate interpretive content to accompany the loans. We are excited about the ways that the program will inspire new understandings of American art, culture, and history, guided but not confined by the thematic parameters that informed our choice of the Terra Foundation works now presiding at Colby College.”

—Beth Finch, Chief Curator, Colby College Museum of Art

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