by Jessie Ammons
The Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill recently received its largest gift ever. Alumnus Sheldon Peck and his wife, Leena, donated a gift estimated at $25 million to the university-owned museum in January: 134 masterworks, most from 17th century Europe, including seven works by Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn; plus an $8 million endowment to create and support a new position at the museum.
The endowment will fund a curator to oversee the Peck Collection and other related European and American art. The gift makes UNC-Chapel Hill the first public university art museum in the U.S. to own a collection of drawings by Rembrandt, and only the second university art museum, public or private, to do so. The Pecks said they hope the collection will inspire museum visitors to appreciate the Dutch master’s celebration of beauty in the everyday.
Meanwhile, Raleigh photographer Elizabeth Galecke has been appreciating everyday beauty through her latest project, Eyes Wide Open. Last year, Galecke began going for a walk in nature every day to document something – anything – inspiring. She posted her finds to Instagram with the hashtag #eyeswideopen, as a way to invite others to join in. The result is a collection of emotive vistas, often at familiar local spots including Shelley Lake and Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve.
The Ackland Museum Store’s “Tiny Gallery” will host an exhibition of a collection of photos from the project, opening March 10. Galecke says she hopes to “promote being more aware of our surroundings and slowing down a bit, and just to show that there still are beautiful sights around us every day even when things in the world and in our lives are more difficult.”