Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center receives $1.2 million Mellon Foundation challenge grant to establish position of Director of Academic Programs

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $1.2 million challenge grant to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, to help create and support a new postdoctoral position for a Coordinator of Academic Affairs. The grant is the largest to date received by the Art Center, according to James Mundy, the museum’s Anne Hendricks Bass Director.

“By helping to endow this key staff addition, the Mellon Foundation will allow us to develop broader collaborations with our Vassar faculty colleagues, thereby expanding the use of our valuable collections across many academic disciplines and encouraging interdisciplinary studies,” said Mundy.

An earlier grant from the Mellon Foundation, received in 1996, enabled the Art Center to take steps towards deepening connections with faculty who used works of art in their teaching, curated exhibitions, presented gallery talks, and collaborated in other ways with Art Center staff.

These initiatives did enrich the college’s curriculum, but as demand for use of the collections has increased over the last eight years, the Center’s small existing staff is unable to respond adequately to the growing needs for academic uses of works of art. Indeed, the Center’s current Coordinator of Public Education and Information is responsible not only for K-12 and public education, but also for all communications with faculty at the college.  By establishing a new position totally dedicated to the academic agenda, the Center will be in a position to serve the college’s faculty and student community far more effectively. 

“Since the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center opened in 1993, we have reaffirmed our central mission of assuring that original works of art play a vital role in the liberal arts education of Vassar,” Mundy continued. “Our exhibitions and programs have steadily increased, further improving access to the collection for both the college community and the general public.  With the appointment of a Mellon Coordinator for Academic Affairs, our position within the college and with the Hudson Valley community will continue to grow.”

To match the $1.2 million challenge grant, Vassar must raise an additional $750,000 over the next three years. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center expects to hire its new Coordinator of Academic Affairs at a level equivalent to that of at least an assistant professor in the college and hopes to hire the first occupant by the fall of 2009.


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation program for art museums is designed to help excellent institutions build and sustain their capacity to undertake serious scholarship on their permanent collections; to preserve these collections; and to share the results of their work in appropriate ways with scholarly and other audiences. The art conservation program concentrates largely on advanced training for future generations of conservators, but it also undergirds fundamental work in developing fields such as photograph conservation and conservation science – areas of increasing importance to conservation as a whole. Both programs, therefore, are engaged in supporting basic research intended to enable curators, conservators, and other professionals to devote intensive study to the objects in their care, and to make their knowledge and professional expertise available to others in new as well as in more traditional ways.


The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center was founded in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery. The current 36,400-square-foot facility, designed by Cesar Pelli and named in honor of the new building’s primary donor, opened in 1993. The Lehman Loeb Art Center’s collections chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise almost 18,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and glass and ceramic wares.

The museum’s notable holdings include the Warburg Collection of Old Master prints, an important group of Hudson River School paintings given by Matthew Vassar at the college’s inception, and a wide range of works by major European and American 20th- century painters. Vassar was the first U.S. college founded with a permanent art collection and gallery, and at any given time, the Permanent Collection Galleries of the Art Center feature approximately 350 works from Vassar’s extensive collections.

Admission to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is free, and it is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm; Thursday, 10:00 am–9:00 pm; and Sunday, 1:00–5:00 pm. The Art Center is wheelchair accessible. For more information, the public may call (845) 437-5632 or visit

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, November 12, 2008